Tuesday, March 19, 2019

First Four - 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

NCAA Basketball Tournament

March Madness is here, and it all get's started today with the First Four at the University of Dayton arena. Hosting the First Four is a real boom for the area as it provides entertainment, economic benefits and prestige to the University and the City.

According to Wikipedia, the first First Four was actually started as a “First One” in 2001 when the Mountain West Conference, which had been formed in 1999 following the split of the Western Athletic Conference, was given an automatic bid for its conference champion, which made it the 31st conference to receive an automatic berth into the men's tournament. The organizers of the NCAA tournament elected to keep their at-large entries at 34. In order to eliminate one of the teams to have a 64-team bracket, it became necessary for another game to be played between the two lowest-ranked teams among the automatic bid leagues. Dayton was hosting a first round game anyway, so they were asked to host the play-in game, and the rest is history!

In that first game, Northwestern State beat Winthrop 71-67 to earn the right to play No. 1 seed Illinois. By 2010, four play-in games were scheduled, thus the First Four moniker came about. This Washington Post article has much more on the topic.

I distinctly recall UD Arena, as it was being build 50 years ago, collapsing due to high winds during the steel framing process. Photo above. Fortunately, after a short delay, construction progressed successfully.

1966-67 University of Dayton Flyers

Minster’s Tom Frericks, then U of D's Athletic Director, pictured above (far right second row) was personally responsible for getting the ball rolling on the new arena after Dayton got to the Final Four in 1967. Ft. Loramie’s Dave Borchers is standing next to Frericks and was a manager for the team. Dave was a star for the 1963-64 Redskins that won the league championship as documented in this previous blogpost.

Flyer coach Don Donoher (far left second row) remembered that Frericks was “ecstatic” and exultantly declared after the big win over Virginia Tech to get to the Final Four, “I just want to announce, here and now, tonight, we just built the UD Arena.” 

This excerpt from Daytonareahistory.org provides more details: "Frericks was talking about the yet to be built University of Dayton Arena. Before that night in 1967 Frericks had worked with limited success trying to drum up interest in build a larger venue for the team. At the time the university’s basketball team played in the Fieldhouse but it could only seat half of those wanting to see the games. Just as he anticipated, however, the team’s victory that night changed many minds inside the school. School administrators were coming to see that a successful basketball program made good business sense for the school. As the 1960s ushered in a period of growing competition for students across the country, attention-grabbing sports programs were becoming important to making the university competitive. An impressive venue was needed in order to have a successful basketball program. Authorized to spend up to $4 million dollars on a new Arena, Frericks sought to forge a partnership with the City of Dayton.”

Major renovations costing $42m, 10 times the cost of the original arena, shown above are scheduled for completion by the start of next basketball season. This upgrade no doubt will allow Dayton to host the First Four for many more years to come. Enjoy March Madness!


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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

St. Ursula - 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

St. Ursula

With Lent underway, it’s appropriate the focus of this week’s blog is on St. Michael’s church in Ft. Loramie, the site of so many childhood memories. Many times while attending church as a youngster, I had wondered about the statue of St. Ursula under the Blessed Virgin Mary alter in the church. After doing some research on-line, I discovered the statue also includes an imbedded relic, but I could not find what the O.P.N. abbreviation means; likely something in German since it was the predominant language in Ft. Loramie at the time the Church was built.

St. Michael’s is the sixth oldest parish in the archdiocese of Cincinnati and the huge edifice built in 1881 is designated as one of the Land of the Cross Tipped Churches prevalent in western Ohio. In fact, over 30 area churches as a group are designated as an Ohio Scenic Byway. The architect of many of these churches was my late aunt’s great grandfather as documented in this previous blogpost. Speaking of blogs, there is a blogpost published by Russ Martin, the so called "Steeple Chaser" at this link highlighting each of the churches included in the "crossed tipped" designation. Click the St. Michael’s link on the right and you’ll see photos of the stations of the cross statues mounted on the church walls. Those statues bring back special memories as an altar boy during Way of the Cross services each Lent.

XI Station

Photos of the stained glass windows are also included, along with an explanation of each, which I found interesting.

Back to St. Ursula, apparently Fr. Bigot, the parish priest when the church was being build, had connections with St. Ursula Basilica in Cologne, Germany, the site where the saint's body was buried. He arranged to have the statue with the embedded relic made in Germany and shipped via canal boat to Ft. Loramie and had it built into the side alter of the new church.

Now for the interesting aspect of St. Ursula; according to legend, she was the daughter of a Christian British king and was sent to pagan Europe along with thousands of maidens so they may be wed to the locals as a way of spreading the Catholic faith on the mainland. Their first stop was Rome for a visit with Pope Leo the Great to get his blessing for their mission. The entourage then traveled to Cologne where they were all martyred in 383 AD by the invading pagan Huns. In the 12th century, the Basilica of St. Ursula was built on the site of a mass grave believed to be the ancient cemetery where St. Ursula and her companions were laid to rest.

The bones from the mass grave are stored in the so-called Golden Chamber within the Basilica. Click here for a video of the inside of the chamber: Since it’s impossible to know which of the bones belonged to St. Ursula herself, the entire collection is considered a relic of the group as a whole. In fact the October 21st feast day for St. Ursula is designated in honor of all the martyred maidens not just the saint.

The Order of Ursulines, founded in 1535, are devoted to the education of young girls, which has also helped to spread St. Ursula’s name throughout the world. As a result, she is the patron saint of school girls. And in honor of St. Ursula and the maidens, the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean were named by Christopher Columbus in 1493.


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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Idyllic Times - 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

Idyllic Times

My Siblings: Luke, Lucy, Ann, Sara and me circa 1962

Fish Report readers; here’s your opportunity to step back in time and get a sense for what it was like to live in the 1950’s & 60’s. View this short video and then we’ll discuss growing up back then. I’ll also share how those times compare to other periods in my life.

Some readers may think I must be living in the past to always blog about those so called "idyllic times”. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am very much a "carpe diem" kind of person, living in the present, while still planning for the future and learning from the past. Having taken two years of Latin back in high school, I vividly recall phrases like “carpe diem” (seize the day”) and “finis origine pendet” (the end depends upon the beginning), which gets to the root of my perspective on life. This short segment by Robins Williams in the movie Dead Poet’s Society says it all.

The only reason I got into this blog gig in the first place is because Fish Report articles would bring back memories that I would occasionally share with Craig. He kept encouraging me to contribute in some way to Fish Report, and in July, 2015, I posted my first blog. While Fish Report Live just celebrated its 250th episode over 8 years, soon my 200th blogpost over 4 years will enter cyberspace. See them all at this link!

The two happiest periods of my life were in my youngster years and now in retirement. In between was a challenge, as there was never enough time or money and too much stress to really enjoy life, relatively speaking. Work demands squeezed out much time for family and self-fulfillment, which led to concealed frustration. Brought up by parents who survived the Great Depression and WWII, we were ingrained to save our money, so we literally lived on our original starting salaries, as almost every raise over 35 years of work was directed towards a 401k, IRA or invested in our home. As I rose up the management ranks at Ford, the work stress was causing my health to deteriorate as I could feel myself prematurely aging, or so I thought.

No, it wasn’t a midlife crisis. Instead it was stress from another crisis - the Arab Oil Embargo that occurred in October, 1973. Unlike today, at that time, the US was almost totally dependent on cheap foreign oil from the Middle East. After the Yom Kipper War that same month, the defeated coalition of Arab countries retaliated by embargoing oil from being shipped to those countries like the US that had supported victorious Israel during this short war. Gas prices skyrocketed overnight and long lines formed at gas stations.

About the same time, I was promoted from the engineering ranks at Ford into management just as it became quickly apparent that the US auto industry had to totally re-engineer their entire fleet to dramatically improve fuel economy. The auto industry to this day is still reacting to this single incident, which also instigated acts of terror by the oil producing countries since it was proven they couldn’t win an outright war. Plus, it’s the reason Iran still wants to develop nuclear weapons.

That all being said, for the most part, I enjoyed every minute of my working career, doing exactly what I had set out to do and accomplish. Working at Ford made me feel part of the extended Ford family and to this day, the company stays very engaged with its employees and retirees.

However, thanks to our disciplined savings strategy, I was able to retire from Ford on the very first day eligible. The perceived health problems suddenly disappeared (except the gray hair!), my schedule freed up and I could enjoy more family time and satisfying activities. Retirement also allowed me to pursue new, less stressful part-time consulting work and volunteer charitable opportunities, while also providing more time for entertainment, sports and exercise.

If it were possible to take a trip back to the past, more than likely those times would not be so idyllic. As an engineer, the technologies back then would be really frustrating after enjoying 4K TV compared to B&W, smart phones versus rotary dial, SUV’s as opposed to gas guzzling cars, 100Mbps internet contrasted to the word-of-mouth grapevine, etc, etc.

In addition to appreciating all the latest technological developments, retirement has also presented me with the opportunity to write this weekly blog. Hope you enjoy the posts as much as I’m enjoying writing them in my retirement. Maybe in my next life, I’ll blog about memories of my retirement in the 2010’s & 20’s!

 No, this is not a Cialis commercial!


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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Skiing 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

Skiing Memories

Even though basketball was by far my favorite winter sport, I ventured into other recreational activities each winter as documented in last week’s blogpost about skating pursuits. Skiing is the focus this week. My first attempt at skiing came around age 16 at Valley High Ski resort near Bellefontaine that had just opened a few years before in 1962. At the time, it was the only ski lodge in Ohio (now there are 5). The slopes have a vertical drop of only 300’ so the runs went rather quickly! Its name had been changed to Mad River Mountain Ski Resort before the original ski lodge that I recall was destroyed by fire in 2015 as shown in this photo.

A totally rebuilt lodge pictured below with slopes in the background opened in 2016.

Starting college in Michigan in 1967 exposed me to the larger slopes in that area like Alpine Valley at 380’ vertical drop.

But eventually we headed up north to places like Boyne Mountain, with a vertical drop of 500’. I distinctly recall going to Boyne with my girlfriend, now wife, who had never skied before. After a few trips on the bunny slope, we ventured up the ski lift to the top of the mountain. We literally rode the entire slope down on our butts, laughing but a little scared all the way!

After college, there were ski trips to Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia where the vertical lifts were 1500’, the highest this side of the Rockies. By then, we could ski quite comfortably and really enjoyed the resort.

After our son was old enough to ski, we’d take him to local ski resorts in southeastern Michigan like Mt. Brighton and Mt. Holly, all nicknamed Mt. Trashmore because they were on former landfills. Such places were good for one day ski outings as opposed to driving hours up north to the larger mountains.

There was one memorable ski outing to Mt. Brighton with some friends and relatives who were visiting from Ohio. One of the skiers by the name of Dale forget his gloves so on the way to the ski resort, we stopped at a local store near the resort to buy a pair. Unfortunately, the only gloves available were yellow Handy Andy farmer's gloves like pictured below. Dale obviously took a lot of good-natured ribbing from the rest of us all day long, as you could see him in those bright gloves all over the slopes.

Although I’ve never skied out west in the Rockies or the Alps in Europe, summertime visits to both were very special and memorable. The Aspen trip involved a fraternity national convention described in this previous Coors Tour blogpost. Aspen's vertical drop is quite an increase at 4030 feet from the “bunny” slopes I was used to around home. Too bad it wasn't winter at the time.

Seeing the Alps was included in an alumni tour organized by my university in July, 2004 to Italy and Switzerland. We took a cogged railway to the peak of Jungfraubahnen in the Swiss Alps. It’s the highest train station in Europe at 11332 feet, with a vertical drop on its ski slopes of an astounding 5591’. Check out the following photos.

My skiing days are long gone due to bad knees; however, snowboarding does look interesting and likely a lot less stressful on the knees than conventional skis. Wonder if an old dog can be taught new tricks?


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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Ice Skating - 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

Ice Skating

The recent dramatic weather swings brought back memories as a kid in winter when there would be a rainstorm followed by a hard freeze. The creek running through our farm would overflow its banks and flood the bottom land shown in blue on the above aerial map of our farm. Then the sudden dip in temperature would freeze the water creating a wonderful, albeit temporary, lake for us to skate on.

The following print reminded me of helping my little brother learn to skate for the first time on that frozen flood plain. Also, there was a nice hill adjacent to the bottom land that we’d take our sleds down and onto the ice, traveling a long way before coming to a stop. Great fun!

The water in the bottomland would be several feet deep right about where my sister is in the photo below. However, the depth of the water in the creek to the right of her would be about 20’ deep, so we’d steer clear of that area. It never froze over as the water was running too fast. Eventually the water would subside, leaving the ice all jagged and broken up in the bottomland. Sometimes the fragmented ice would stay there all winter until the spring thaws.

Invariably, the flooding would bring in carp that we could see swimming under the ice. I recall Dad shooting them with a .22 rifle right through the ice. He called them bottom-sucking trash fish, among other such terms of endearment!

The creek flooded frequently because it was getting silted up from upstream erosion that restricted the flow. So when I was about age 11 or so, the creek was dredged from one end to the other to improve flow and mitigate flooding. This allowed the farm land in the creek’s watershed to also drain more rapidly enhancing timely crop planting and harvesting. Seeing those big steam shovels and bull dozers in action was a real treat. After the operators would quit for the day, I’d climb up on to those big rigs and pretend to run them.

Dredging the creek had another advantage during winter in that I could ice skate all the way down to Newport after it was frozen. If you look closely on the map below, you’ll see the creek ran parallel to the old Miami-Erie canal that I had written about in this previous blogpost. During the time of the canal, the creek supplied water to two old canal feeders named Basinburg and Lickety Lakes. Lake Loramie served a similar purpose, as did Lake St. Marys. Basinburg Lake was about half way to Newport and Lickety Lake was right at the intersection of State Routes 66 and 47 in Newport. Legend has it that Lickety Lake was named after some skinny-dipping escapades, but who am I to know?

My first pair of skates were the old clip-on style that did not work too well and were a real pain to install. Finally, I saved enough allowance money @ $1.25 per week to buy some figure skates. Then later hockey skates.

Hockey was fun but the ice was always very ragged and had to also be cleared of snow. We made makeshift goals out of two-by-fours and always seemed to lose the puck and break our sticks. To this day, the whole rigamarole turned me off to ice hockey, and that’s even after living in the suburbs of Hockeytown for 43 years.

Next week, look for another post about winter sports memories.


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