Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Woodward Dream Cruise - 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

Woodward Dream Cruise

The Original Woodward Dream Cruise

As a retired automotive engineer, the annual Woodward Dream Cruise here in Michigan each August represents the perfect time to reflect back on the cars and trucks that I had the privilege to work on as well as own over the years.

The 2018 Cruise was exceptional in that Debby & I were invited to the Roush Racing pavilion right on Woodward north of 13 Mile Road, literally at the epicenter pictured in the aerial photo below of the annual automobile pilgrimage.

We were invited by a fellow Ford retiree who now works for Roush. An informative blurb about the Company and it’s founder, Jack Roush, can be found by clicking on this link.

In addition to the ample food and refreshments that we enjoyed, Roush had set up elevated bleachers right on Woodward offering a perfect vantage point to observe the classic cars passing by. Most brought back some memory or another that I’d like to share with you in this blogpost.

An old Thunderbird was spotted which was like the first test car assigned to me upon starting work at Ford in 1973.

As a member of a team to develop an improved air conditioning system, Ford recruited me from Frigidaire in Dayton, which was the General Motors division responsible for GM's A/C system. At the time, Ford purchased many of their air conditioning parts from Frigidaire, and it irritated boss Henry Ford II that he had to pay his prime competitor for these parts. He directed our group to fix the problem, and after a couple years, we were quite successful. For example, the price of one part came down from from $110 per car to $55 while being 50% lighter. Plus we totally eliminated a $10 part, while also cutting the power draw from the A/C by 50%. I earned a patent on that idea!

To this day, Ford does not buy a single part from GM, or any other competitor for that matter. By 1977, I had moved into the management ranks at Ford so was able to lease my first Thunderbird, a two-tone red on white beauty like shown below that I recall driving down to Columbus for the Loramie Redskin State Basketball Championship game, which we fortunately won! To this day, we still have a Thunderbird; this 2004 model with only 6000 miles that we drove in the cruise this year.

Next to come along was a yellow Plymouth Satellite that looked a lot like a car my sister first drove, but when I texted her a photo, she said it was a yellow Plymouth Duster. I think she eventually totaled that yellow beast, if memory serves, but she was Ok! Her boyfriend at the time, now husband, had a really cool Plymouth Road Runner.

As a Ford guy, Mustang’s have always been one of my favorites, kindled by my first exposure to the pony car in the spring of 1964 at Eagle Park in Minster documented in this previous blogpost. We also had a yellow classic, our first ’68 Mustang, like this one that my wife drove. And Roush was exhibiting some really cool Mustangs in their corral, including one honoring their founder called the Jackhammer.

Probably the most popular vehicles in each cruise are the Corvette’s. The most iconic ‘Vette is the split window coupe, one of which I owned years ago. It sure was fast and loud with a big block engine and side pipes.

My favorite Corvette was a maroon ’65 convertible pictured below. This vehicle came into my hands after my brother-in-law married my wife’s sister and she wanted new furniture. So the Vette had to go, but on the condition that he could someday buy it back from me at the going rate. Whenever my brother-in-law and his family visited, he always gave his kids rides in the Corvette, but when it came time to give his wife a ride, for some reason the car wouldn’t start! Somehow it knew! Fast forward about 20 years, after babying that car for all that time, I received a call from my brother-in-law about a week before the Dream Cruise that he was ready to buy back the ‘65. Sad day for me; happy day for him! He’s since given the Vette to his son, who cruises around Russia, with his kids.

A blue ’59 Chevy came rolling past just like my first car, a hand-me-down from Dad. It even had the same black wheels and whitewalls. Hated that car!

A ’62 Chevy was also spotted, a lot nicer than my red Impala that I bought used from a high school classmate’s brother documented in this previous blogpost.

A gold ’69 Chevy Nova SS was my first new car, purchased for $1800 after trading in the ’62.

The Nova was special as I met my wife while driving that car. We had it for our first year of our marriage before a fraternity brother bought it. He eventually trashed it, then crashed it, so no classic life for that memorable car!

Look for more Dream Cruise photos and memories next week.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Hawaii & Alaska - 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

Hawaii & Alaska

Back in 1959, on this date, Hawaii was admitted to the union as our 50th state. It’s admission to statehood followed on the heals of Alaska being admitted earlier that same year in January (seems appropriate that Alaska be admitted in the dead of winter while Hawaii during the heat of summer). Our grade school teachers obviously discussed these milestone events during our classes; however, at the time, I really never imagined traveling to those far-away new states. But if there was such a thing as a bucket lists back then, visiting Hawaii & Alaska would have been on it. In fact, traveling to all 50 states was a goal that I met years later, including several memorable visits to the two newest states.

The first opportunity came in the winter of 1976 during a business trip to Japan while working for Ford. Planes in those days had limited fuel range, so after leaving on a Sunday evening, the flight stopped at Juneau airport in Alaska to refuel. We were allowed to get off the plane for an hour or so to look around the airport and buy a souvenir or two. It was too dark outside to see much of anything. On the other hand, for the return trip, we flew to Hawaii on Friday evening after a week's work, arriving Saturday morning for a wonderful two day stay. At that time, company policy allowed such a stay to “help one's body adjust to a 13 hour time change between Japan and the US”. Needless to say, with direct flights now commonplace along with corporate cost cutting, that practice is history. Our Hawaiian stop-over was special as we had a chance to visit the Pearl Harbor Memorial, spend some time on Waikiki next to Diamond Head and attend a luau on the beach in Honolulu.

The weather was a tropical 80 degrees both days. I recall having a new leather overcoat that I left somewhere in Hawaii - surely didn’t need it there - until I got home to freezing temperatures and and suddenly realized it was gone!

Another trip to Hawaii occurred on our 25th wedding anniversary in 1997 which we celebrated on the island of Maui at Kapalua Resort, where the inaugural PGA golf tournament is held each year. I was able to play the course with my wife riding along enjoying the scenery while I golfed.

Many of the holes overlooked the bay between Maui and Molokai, as did our villa in the resort. It was fun watching the whales jump out of the water in the crystal blue bay under cloudless skies.

My son, his friend and I traveled to Alaska the year I retired for some salmon and halibut fishing and sightseeing during July. I recall it being daylight 24 hours at that time of year. The fishing was fantastic. We took a charter tour out of Anchorage to catch some halibut and view a calving glacier. Halibut lay flat on the bottom of the bay so have two eyes on one side of their head. Hooking one was easy, but landing it was another story. It was like pulling up a 4x8 sheet of plywood from 100’ below the surface.

Salmon fishing was also a challenge, as the salmon were swimming upstream through rushing rivers heading toward their birthplace to spawn and then die. As a result, they really weren’t hungry so bait didn’t work. Instead a brightly colored- weighted hook was used to cast right in front of the visible salmon, ideally hitting them in the nose irritating them enough that they would snap at the colored object and get hooked. It took a lot of practice to eventually get the hang of it. The best part was having a shore lunch after a good morning of fishing.

We also experienced a fantastic sightseeing aerial tour around Denali National Park.

All-in-all, I’d say Alaska and Hawaii were fantastic additions to our nation. Unlikely, there won’t be any more new states to add to my bucket list before I “kick the bucket”, although occasionally the Youpers in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula threaten to split off, and of course, there are the crazies in California who want to divide into three states or split off entirely; aka San Andres fault!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Summertime in Osgood - 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

Summertime in Osgood

The highlight of our summers was visiting our uncle, aunt and cousins in Osgood. My aunt Dettie was the closest sister in age to my mother. Both are shown in this photo along with their other sisters. Dettie is on the lower left and Mom upper right. All were in their 20’s and obviously enjoying life before kids!

After getting married to uncle Paul, aunt Dettie got pregnant about the same frequency as mom, since all their kids matched up age-wise with me and my siblings (more evidence to be presented later). So needless to say, we had tons of fun visiting them in Osgood at their home shown here located at the corner of Main & Church Streets.

My uncle worked at Minster Machine but also had a large chicken farm, which included a barn where the baby chicks were raised, then were moved to a gigantic chicken coop when they reached egg laying age. I recall the eggs would roll out in front of the nests. Before automation, my cousins recall collecting eggs in wire baskets from long wooden laying boxes that their dad had made and attached to the walls. Then they'd wash them in the egg washer, buff out by hand any remaining dirty spots, put them in egg cases, and store them in a large walk-in cooler until they were picked up by the egg processor. They don’t really remember much about the automation, but were thrilled to lose that job.

For them, raising chickens was totally different than how our much smaller flock was tended to on the farm. It was egg gathering the old fashioned way, which I hated since the chickens would always peck at my hand as I reached in for its eggs.

Looking at this aerial view of their Osgood home now reveals, likely in the name of progress and a more lucrative financial outcome than chicken farming, that the coop and barn have been demolished and new homes built in their place. That was not my uncle’s doing, but the subsequent owners since the family moved to Sidney on another small farm about the time I was in high school.

As a kid their Osgood homestead provided many memorable times. I distinctly recall their back yard had a handmade swing set and an awesome sandbox under a tree. The sand box had places to sit along the sides and was filled with lots of clean sand.

We'd spend hours on that ole swing set and in the sandbox, playing with my cousin’s Tonka toys that were perfect for constructing roads, bridges and buildings in the sand using only our imagination as a blueprint.

Their place was right across the street from St. Nicholas church in Osgood. During one visit as a teenager long before getting my drivers license, I recall giving my cousins a ride in Dad’s car around that huge church parking lot since in those days, he always left the keys an unlocked car. Having driven tractors since about age 8, it was a snap, but I’m really glad to have never gotten caught or damaged the car!

We’d ride bikes around the big church parking lot, and also head downtown to purchase pop, candy and baseball cards at the local store. In later years, my mom’s brother managed the local grain elevator in Osgood so no doubt my younger siblings and cousins would stop by to say hi to him. For certain, no bike ride was complete without ending up at the ball field next to the school west of town for a game of sandlot baseball. The school has been torn down, but at least the ball diamond still exists as part of a Community Park.

Capping off a summertime visit to our cousins was always a fabulous chicken dinner barbecued over a makeshift charcoal grill that uncle Paul had handmade out of a 55 gallon drum and some grated steel. Dad and Paul would sip their beers all afternoon while slow roasting the chicken on the grill. No doubt some of that beer also ended up on the chicken to dowse the occasional charcoal flair-up. They also basted the chicken with a secret recipe shown below, which gave the chicken a unique, mouthwatering flavor. We now make is with much less salt! Try it sometime, you’ll like it!

Summertime is also a great time for family reunions. Here’s a photo of the 2018 family members who attended this years event held this past weekend at Ft. Loramie park. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it.

And here’s a photo of the 1948 reunion attendees held at the now demolished St. Patrick’s school. Mom & Dettie are side-by-side right in the middle. Mom always kidded her mother (upper right) about this photo because her bra strap was hanging out! There are 8 relatives who attended both - can you pick them out? I didn’t attend that reunion either, being only 6 months old and with the baby sitter! Traditionally, the reunion is held in August, and coincidentally (or not), my sister and Dettie’s second child were both born on the same day the following year in May, nine months later. Hmmm!!

Enjoy your summer.

Friday, August 10, 2018

2018 SCAL Cross Country Preview

The Shelby County Preview hosted by Russia opens the season on August 21st

Even though many local cross country runners have been conditioning since the beginning of July, official practice got underway August 1st and it looks to be another exciting season for both the high school girls and boys. Last year you may remember I predicted the D-III girls in this area would be as loaded as they've been in long time. That was never more evident than the District Meet when an absolute bumper crop of young talent emerged and a couple weeks later the perennial favorite Minster Lady Wildcats took home the gold trophy at state. The local boys teams were strong as well, only it was juniors and seniors who seemed to shine the brightest in the biggest races.

The Shelby County Athletic League had a fantastic 2017. On the girls side, Ft. Loramie broke Russia's 5-year streak winning the league title and followed that up with an impressive 4th-place finish at the state meet. The Lady Raiders kept a different streak in tact however, qualifying for the state meet a remarkable sixth consecutive year. On the boys side, Ft. Loramie rode the momentum from their state title in 2016 and won the SCAL, District, Regional, and finished 7th at National Trail Raceway in Hebron. The Houston boys also became a team on everyone's radar and wrapped up their season with the program's first-ever trip to state.

This year the SCAL girls return a majority of the talent from 2017 and below are my top five runners I'll be keeping my eyes on when the Preview opens the season on Tuesday, August 21st:

Houston senior Hollie Voisard had a breakout season in 2017

Everyone around Shelby County will be pointing at the Ft. Loramie girls as the team to beat in the league. In addition to the three runners listed above, sophomores Corynn Heitkamp and Caitlyn Gasson are back from fantastic freshman seasons and will likely be challenged by 3-4 new freshman making their debuts. I envision Russia securing that second spot in the SCAL with seniors Claire Meyer and Anna Fiessinger chasing Becca Seger to give the Raiders a nice top three. The key for Russia will be their 4 and 5 runners who appear to be junior Clare Caldwell and perhaps freshman Ella Hoehne at this point. Botkins is super young and a real question mark for me right now. The Lady Trojans have a lot of potential and I see sophomore Emma Koenig as their leader this fall. Houston has a bona fide star in senior Hollie Voisard who I expect will make a return trip to state. The Lady Wildcats also bring in freshman Ava Knouff who won a number of junior high races the past two seasons. Finally, the Anna girls are in rebuilding mode in my opinion and their best performers just might be freshman this year.

The SCAL boys were hit a little harder with graduation this past spring, but my top five include an impressive list of veterans and one underclassman I'm looking forward to watching in a few weeks:

Jake Rethman and Joe Ballas lead a strong senior class in the SCAL

This might sound redundant, but the league favorites on the boys side is Ft. Loramie. They've won the previous three years and even after graduating two of their top four from 2017, I believe junior Jordan Drees steps up to #3 for the Redskins this year and will be followed by senior Gavin Schulze and junior Evan Luthman. Challengers for the SCAL title will be plentiful however, and I'll start with Houston and the 18 boys that showed up for the first day of practice. Along with the two seniors above, throw in classmate Jacob Slater, and juniors Blake Jacobs and Patrick Meiring all back with experience from state and hungry to return. Botkins graduated their top runner and only state representative from last year in Austin Fullenkamp. No need to feel sorry for the Trojans though because Austin's brother Alan is back after a great freshman season, as are junior Elliott Goubeaux and sophomores Donovan Brown and  RJ Poeppelman. By the way, the black & gold are oozing with talent in the freshman class having five of the top eleven 8th-grade runners in last year's league meet. Anna is another program smiling about their youth. After junior Jacob Robinson mentioned above, I believe three freshman will have a big impact beginning with last year's SCAL junior high champ Lucas Smith, Colin Frilling and Holy Angels transfer Hayden Schmidt. Russia has a rich tradition of success, but after a 6th-place finish in last year's SCAL, the Raiders have plenty of work ahead once again. Top returnees are senior Gavin George and junior Andrew Deloye, along with sophomores Nick Caldwell and Jonathan Bell. Jackson Center will look to an athletic duo to lead them in junior Christopher Elchert and senior TJ Esser. Lastly, at Fairlawn I anticipate their top runner to be sophomore Alan Asher.

Finally, like every year, I'm certain there will be a lot of surprises and a few disappointments as the 2018 season flies by. The only thing for sure is that Fish Report will be tracking it all from August through November. Stay tuned for more and get out to a race if you can!

Lucas Smith of Anna and Olivia Borchers of Ft. Loramie are fab freshman to watch

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