Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Pond - 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 Pond

My wife grew up on her family's farm northeast of Russia that has two small ponds behind the barn. The family photo above taken in 1957 shows the smaller pond in the background. Her grandfather DJ had an old house trailer shown in the aerial photo below that was situated next to the pond where the family would congregate on weekends to hold fishing contests, fish fries, barbecues and play games.

Grandpa DJ especially enjoyed spending time there. In fact, he was at the pond when he died in 1976, likely his favorite place in the world. That’s definitely the way to go! He loved fishing; to the point this blogpost was written about his fishing tackle box that I picked up when the family divided up his personal belongings after his death. One of my wife’s high school classmates posted the following comment about the blog sharing his experiences at the pond:

"Really enjoyed this. I remember DJ's annual parties at the pond on the farm, I believe on first day of hunting season. All of the politicians (DJ & Gov. Gilligan shown below), priests, and celebrities of all stripes were there. Also, all of the local good ol' boys such as George Coffield, Shep (Simon), Charlie Grogean, Syl Daniel, etc. Free food, beer, liquor, cigars, cigarettes, etc. DJ was in his element going around patting everybody on the back. I guess I was invited because I was the local banker at the time. He gave me an ashtray that said "who is DJ" on it. Just a way of promoting his "brand". There were a lot of "characters" in those days but DJ was truly one of a kind. I guess God decided there was no sense in trying to duplicate him". :-)

My wife recalls riding in a rowboat with her father on the pond when it capsized, spilling both overboard. Her father lost his glasses and the first thing she feared was that her father couldn’t see to rescue her. But needless to say, he did. Then there was the time my wife’s two sisters ran away from home and they were feared to have drowned in the pond only to eventually be found in the nearby woods. My wife said she ran all over the farm crying the whole time while looking for them. And her brother recalls sneaking into grandpa DJ’s trailer with his friends as teenagers to sample the "stash of booze, cigs, guns and fireworks; all those things kids shouldn't be doing”.

Her sisters remember grandpa’s “creepy” bedroom in the trailer and several small mini-bikes the kids would ride all around the property. Apparently, once their mother almost ran one into the pond, which would have been a sight to see!

The family recalls ice skating on the pond in the winter, building a fire next to the ice to keep warm. The trailer was no longer useable so was eventually torn down and replaced by a much nicer and larger building with a restroom, small kitchenette, TV and wood burning stove for heat. With the new building in place, the family would host an annual party on the Saturday night before Father’s Day at the pond that included a band which would play from a makeshift stage made out of a hay wagon. It was quite an affair held before most of us had children. Once the kids started arriving, the tradition became history! Here’s a photo from one of the parties with an Hawaiian theme.

Our son would stay a week each summer with his cousins who lived near the farm. They’d of course spend most of their time goofing off around the pond. He recalls one year getting a fish hook caught in his finger requiring stitches and a tetanus shot. Ouch!

Fun at the pond still occurs to this day as shown on the following photographs. Only now the family has grown to 75 including in-laws, grandkids and great grandkids. We’re planning a family picture this Labor Day weekend, which should be an interesting experience. Maybe the setting will be out at the pond?

On one family get-together, I recall placing my bother-in-law's shoes on two posts in the middle of the pond. This photo shows him and my wife's youngest brother paddling out to recapture the shoes.

Every so often, someone would snag a gar fish that DJ had stocked in the pond many years ago. That was an automatic fishing derby winner!

The pond served an even more important role to the family a number of years ago when the family business located on the site of the original family farm buildings caught on fire. The pond provided the needed source of water for the fire department to isolate the fire and keep it from spreading to adjacent buildings. As a result, the company was able to restart production shortly after the fire, never missing a delivery to their customers.

Here’s an aerial photo of the pond as it looks today. After the fire, the larger pond was deepened and expanded to provide a source of water for the new sprinkler system installed in the family business shown in the lower right.

The pond provided so many fun times and great memories over the years; with for sure many more to come.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Lake Cumberland - 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

Lake Cumberland

During the summer of 1971, we spent a long weekend in June with friends on Lake Cumberland in Kentucky. It was my first visit there and a memorable one for sure.

One of my friends had a boat, and the weather was perfect, so we spent the entire weekend exploring Lake Cumberland from one end to the other, over 100 miles. As shown in these photos, the lake is a long, curvy reservoir created in 1952 when the Cumberland River was dammed up at Wolf Creek.

According to Wikipedia, the explorer Thomas Walker of Virginia in 1758 named the river, but whether for the Duke of Cumberland or the English county of Cumberland is not known. The Cumberland River was called Wasioto by the Shawnee Indians, who lived in this area. French traders called it the Riviere des Chaouanons, or "River of the Shawnee" for this association. And at the headwaters of the river in the Appalacian mountains, Thomas Walker also discovered the Cumberland Gap. Danial Boone led settlers through the passageway to cross the mountains as they headed west.

But I digress! Our Cumberland experience involved trying to water ski for the first time. We quickly mastered the sport as envisioned in this photo!

After a fun-filled weekend, late on Sunday afternoon, we were loading the boat back onto the trailer, preparing for the long trip back home. A girl was in the boat and needed help getting out. As I was helping her out, she placed her hands on my shoulders and as I lifted her out of the boat, the skin on my shoulders under her hands literally slid off due to severe sunburn. Ouch, ouch! That girl is now my wife, so the pain was quickly forgotten and fortunately did not cause any long term skin problems on my shoulders (so far).

For several summers thereafter, we would travel with friends back to Lake Cumberland, most of the time renting a houseboat that could be floated around the lake. I’m just glad we didn't have social media and camera phones in those days, otherwise this ad shows how it would have gone down! What happens at Lake Cumberland stays at Lake Cumberland!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Perfect Game - 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

Perfect Game

Forest City

Today is the anniversary of the first perfect game in Major League Baseball history. It occurred in 1880 and the pitcher was John Lee Richmond, who played for Worcester against Forest City. They may not sound like Major League teams, but back then they were. In fact, Forest City was in Cleveland and Worcester near Boston. This first perfect game occurred just 11 years after the establishment of league when the first professional baseball team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, was formed.

Speaking of the Reds, the only perfect game by a Cincinnati pitcher was Tom Browning in 1988.

A perfect game is defined by Major League Baseball as a game in which a pitcher (or combination of pitchers) pitches a victory that lasts a minimum of nine innings in which no opposing player reaches base. Thus, the pitcher (or pitchers) cannot allow any hits, walks, hit batsmen, or any opposing player to reach base safely for any other reason and the fielders cannot make an error that allows an opposing player to reach a base; in short, "27 up, 27 down”. The first known use in print of the term perfect game occurred in 1908. I. E. Sanborn's report for the Chicago Tribune about Addie Joss's performance against the White Sox calls it "an absolutely perfect game, without run, without hit, and without letting an opponent reach first base by hook or crook, on hit, walk, or error, in nine innings.”

During the course of MLB’s 150 year history of over 210,000 games, there have been just 23 perfect games, a rare event indeed. But it should be 24! On June 2, 2010, during a game I happened to be watching, Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga was robbed of a perfect game due to a terribly bad call by umpire Jim Joyce with two out in the ninth inning. Above is a photo that shows how far the runner is out and here’s a video of the controversial play. So a perfect game, unfortunately in this case, also demands perfection by the umpires!

Later Joyce admitted his mistake and apologized to Galarraga. Since then the twosome have teamed up to write a book about the game and also share speaking engagements around the country on sportsmanship.

The next day, Chevrolet gave Galarraga a new Corvette for the almost perfect game! And 10 months later, a local newspaper reported that MLB had reversed the call and declared it a perfect game. The date of the article was April 1st, a cruel April Fools joke to us Tiger fans.

The most famous perfect game in major league history was pitched by Yankee Don Larson in the 1956 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Check out Vin Scully’s historic call of the final out.

Today also happens to be the anniverary of the opening of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY and also is the anniversary of Sparky Anderson's hiring by the Tigers in 1979 after the Reds abruptly fired him the previous year. His firing by the Reds really upset me, but his subsequent hiring by the Tigers made my day. Speaking of Sparky, what do Hall of Famers Babe Ruth, Tom Seaver and Sparky Anderson have in common? Follow me on Twitter and you’ll get the answer!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Cross-Tipped Churches - 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

Cross-Tipped Churches

My Aunt Liz recently passed away at age 84 and her obituary included a reference to her ancestors who were Ohio church architects. Turns out her great-great grandfather, Anton DeCurtins, designed 7 churches included in the Ohio Scenic Byway designated as the Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches. And his sons and grandson were the architects for 5 more after Anton retired. All 12 churches are listed at this link and have been named to the National Register of Historic Places including Aunt Liz’s birth parish, Holy Trinity Church in Coldwater pictured above.

Ohio Scenic Byway - Land of the Crossed-Tipped Churches

Putting two & two together, it’s really no surprise Aunt Liz was descended from such talented ancestors. She attended the University of Dayton where she received a degree in fine arts. Aunt Liz was a gifted pianist, teaching piano lessons as a teenager and young adult to help pay for college. Upon graduation, she began her career as an interior decorator in Cincinnati.

Later, after getting married to my Uncle Gene and moving to Highland Park, Illinois, she started a small art design business creating public art on commission, most notably outdoor banners for the city of Highland Park, the Ravinia Music Festival and a suspended sculpture for Chicago’s Water Tower Landmark museum.

I recall as a young boy in the ’50’s attending their wedding at Holy Trinity Church. This wedding photo was taken in front of the church.

The wedding ceremony was held in the morning, followed by a luncheon at a local restaurant and then everyone adjourned to Liz’s parents home for the afternoon reception (weddings in those days were held between the dairy farmers' morning and evening milkings). To the best of my recollection, pictured below is their family house where the reception was held, which clearly shows the architectural flair of her parents. I recall the home had a koi pond in the back and needless to say, we kids found the gold fish fascinating. My Mother was really upset at me for getting my suit and shoes all wet from splashing around the pond.

Liz and Gene had two children, so she naturally channeled her many talents to her children’s schools while serving the community in a variety of ways, including as president of the PTA, president of Tri-Con Child Care Center, a day-care center that served underprivileged children; president of Family Service Center of Lake County, IL., an interfaith social service agency; and as an active volunteer at a Waukegan soup kitchen.

In 1980, we had the opportunity to visited Liz and Gene at their beautiful log home in Highland Park, IL This photo clearly shows the log siding and the majestic white grand piano Liz would play so masterfully for us.

A celebration of Aunt Liz’s life will be held this Saturday at Coldwater’s Holy Trinity Church. Interment will be at nearby St. Elizabeth Catholic Cemetery in Coldwater. Aunt Liz, rest in peace and thanks for the memories!

Search Blog Archives

Follow by Email