Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Gone Too Soon - 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

Gone Too Soon


Last week, the sad news arrived that my childhood friend, Ken, had passed away after shoveling snow during the winter storm. While growing up, our families spent almost every 4th of July and New Years Eve together. Those were special holidays that we enjoyed celebrating with special people. Our parents were great friends and us kids matched up nicely age wise.


At those celebrations, we would play for hours in their old barn pictured here that provides a fitting backdrop for recent photos of Ken, a 2nd cousin on my father’s side, his lovely wife Monica, a 2nd cousin on my mother’s side, and their large family.




The get-togethers with our families would always end with a bang, as fireworks were set off each 4th and shotgun blasts at midnight on NYE. What a thrill!

Ken was active in many civic affairs around Ft. Loramie, including being a key member of the Redskin Field Crew recognized in this previous blogpost. He was also an honored veteran, who was commander of the local American Legion Post.


My childhood memories about Ken mostly centered around sports. He was a star athlete on our high school baseball team that won the district championship in his senior year.


Here’s what my sister Sara recalls about playing sports with Ken and his brother Tom:
"Recall visits back and forth, often New Years Eve, 4th of July etc. and atmosphere was especially light and fun filled. To me, personally, Ken and Tom accepted me into the male triangle to play all sports and cards. Needless to say I realize I was just a fourth person necessary to even up the sides but they never made me feel that way. Lots of laughter overhead from those adults, too."
Ken was a year older than me, so for sure he is “Gone Too Soon” as reflected in the lyrics of this song by Simple Plan.

No one will miss him more that his grandkids pictured below at a party on his 70th birthday. May his memory sustain them now and forever more. Rest in Peace, my friend.


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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

K of C Basketball - 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

K of C Basketball


After graduating from high school in 1966, my two older cousins suggested I join the Knights of Columbus and play on the Council's basketball team. Dad was a long time K of C member who also encouraged me to join the fraternal organization that supported charitable work around the area. Because Ft. Loramie did not have its own Council, my Dad and cousins all had joined nearby Minster’s Council, so I soon participated in the memorable initiation ceremony held at the K of C Hall along Main Street in Minster.


Coach Ripploh
The K of C team played in the so-called the Tri-County League with about 8 other teams from Shelby, Auglaise and Mercer Counties. At the time, Russia was the defending champion and Minster came in a close second. Minster Coach Bill Ripploh wanted a championship so I and another new graduate from Minster were added to the team.

The season started in early December, and I was immediately plunged into an intensely physical style of play that I obviously had not been exposed to in high school.

The schedule included two games against each of the other teams in the league; one at home and the other away. Fortunately, we didn’t have to play Russia early in the season, which allowed our team to gel. We started slow with a 2-2 record, but by the time of the first Russia game in January, our record had improved to 6-3 after a blow-out win over Maria Stein K of C as scribed in this Community Post article.

January 5, 1967 Community Post

As a rookie, my playing time was limited, especially since I was a string bean compared the older players. I was getting seriously pushed around when driving to the basket or trying to rebound. The physical play occurred because the referees did not call fouls nearly as closely as in high school, which meant in this league I quickly learned to defend very aggressively on defense without risking fouling out. As a result, I generally came off the bench to defend whomever had the hot hand on the other team.

Bowling Green’s 1963 Basketball Team

In early-January, we traveled to undefeated Russia for our first matchup. They were led by their high school coach Elijah Chatman, an African-American from Akron who played on the same high school team as future NBA greats Nate Thurmond and Gus Johnson. Chatman (35) and Thurmond (43) both went on to play at Bowling Green where in 1963, they guided BG to a 21-4 record, a MAC championship, eventually losing to Illinois in the second round of the NCAA tournament that was eventually won by Chicago-Loyola, who BG had beaten earlier in the season.

Needless to say, Chatman had the early hot hand in our game, so off the bench I came to try and stop him. I had never guarded anybody so quick and agile! He blew me away for 18 points while I was held scoreless; losing the game by 11. But as indicated in the Community Post article that follows, we recovered in our next game to blow out New Bremen by 29 points.

January 12, 1967 Community Post

We played the final game of the regular season at home against Russia in late February after we “whipped” Maria Stein when I “bagged" 22 points. We were in second place behind 25-1 Russia and had to beat them in order to qualify for the State K of C tournament. Elijah Chatman must have been injured so was not playing. As a result, we were able to eek out a one-point win as described in this Community Post article:

February 23, 1967 Community Post

So off to the State Tournament we went, only to eventually play Russia again in the quarterfinal round. The winner earned the right to play in the semifinal game at the Cincinnati Gardens before an NBA game between the Royals and Baltimore Bullets. This time we lost by a disappointing 2 points after having an 11 point lead at halftime. I distinctly recall missing a on-and-one foul shot late in the game that could have tied it. You’ll have to ask one of the Russia players if they went on to win the State Tournament and what it was like to play at the old Cincinnati Gardens.

March 2, 1967 Community Post

That was the only season I played in the league, as I was off to college at General Motors Institute in Michigan the next year. While playing for the Minster K of C, I attended Sinclair Community College and also played for their basketball team as documented in this previous blogpost, while working at Frigidaire in Dayton to earn money for college. How I was able to do all that is beyond me now! The good news is I’m still a K of C member in good standing at our local parish council here in Michigan.

As a follow-up to a recent blogpost about the restoration of the barn on our former family farm, a cousin provided an excerpt from my uncle Tony’s memoirs about the barn on their family farm in St. Patrick's that I had turned into a blogpost back in 2016. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Band of Brothers - 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

Band of Brothers


My uncle Gene and his six brothers were honored recently with a commemorative brick in the newly dedicated Veterans Memorial Park in Sun City, Florida, where uncle Gene lives and my uncle Tony is buried.


The brick shown below in a larger photo, recognized the seven brothers for their services during WWII and the Korean War.

                          Pat                      Lindy                Gene         Jerry            Hank        Tony             Ed

Three of uncle Tony’s grown children were able to also attend the dedication and are pictured below with uncle Gene.

         Karen                                  Gene                              Steve                                 Ken

This is a blow-up of the framed newspaper article about the brothers (and one brother-in-law) shown in the photo.


Here are some previous tributes to our greatest generation:

Most read blogpost about Okinawa veteran Vernie Hoying:

Veterans Day 2015:

Rosie The Riveter:

Even though I’ve written many times about my uncles who served in the armed forces, our gratitude can never be expressed adequately enough to atone for the sacrifices they and all veterans have made to fight for the cherished freedom we all enjoy.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Barn Restoration - 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

Barn Restoration




Earlier this fall, Tom, a long-time friend from my childhood, whom I’ve written about in this previous blogpost, was driving out to Arrowhead in Minster for a round of golf and noticed on the way that the barn on our family farm west of Ft. Loramie was being torn down. We had sold the farm a number of years ago after our Dad (pictured below in front of the barn) had passed away at age 94. Needless to say, it was a shock to our family that the old barn built in 1882 by our great grandfather Heinrich (right) was being torn down.


My sister who lives in Ft. Loramie reached out to the current owners and discovered that the barn was actually being dismantled piece-by-piece and was to be relocated and rebuilt somewhere in Virginia! That was a pleasant surprise to know that the structure would carry on, albeit in a remote location from its origin. The unique style of a bank barn is characterized by the hill “banking” up to the second level allowing hay and straw wagons to be driven right up to the mow. It also was handy in that the hay and straw could be dropped from above into the mangers and stables. Plus as kids, we had great fun in winter sliding down the hill as depicted in this photo. Look closely and you’ll notice that I had improvised using a scoop shovel as a sled!


As is evident from the following series of photos, the barn dismantling process was somewhat complex and time consuming. As parts of the barn were uncovered, vivid memories of times spent literally among all the nooks & crannies of the old barn came back to mind.


Dismantling started by carefully removing the long 136 year old siding boards without damaging them. Here’s an interesting article I found on-line about salvaging an old barn. The above view shows the east side of the barn where the milking parlor was located right below the granary used for storing oats. That allowed feed to be dropped from above through a shoot to feed the dairy cows as they were being milked; yet another advantage with a bank barn design leveraging gravity to save labor. Dismantling the milking parlor actually had a somewhat soothing effect to counter all those non-so-pleasant memories of milking the cows twice a day, 365 days a year.


Next the dismantling company moved to the south side of the barn, and first had to remove red shingles that Dad had installed over the boards to preclude having to paint. The south side took most of the weather so paint never lasted more than a year or two. Note the inside ladder going up to the peak. I had climbed that countless times and traversed the beams like a tightrope walker.


Next came the teardown of the bank wing on the west side with the hill that seemed so steep when I was a kid.


The north-side followed as shown here. This was the end with the stable where the cows stayed in winter. The hay loft was directly above again so the cows could be readily fed. During the other seasons, the herd grazed in the pasture with the creek visible behind the barn in the lead-in photo to this blogpost.


So with all the siding removed, the basic structure of the barn becomes very evident. This view shows where our inside basketball court was when I was a kid. Imagine in the wintertime both the hay mow on the left and the straw mow on the right filled to the rafters with the center area clear leaving space for a basketball court. The backboard hung down from the rafters and could be folded up whenever loads of hay or straw were brought in during the summer to unload into the mows. With the cows below and the two mows on each side, the court-side temps always seemed much warmer than outside. This court originated out of necessity, after several of us got caught playing basketball in the high school gym one weekend. On Friday’s, we would conveniently leave an outside window unlocked so we could get in. If I recall, a classmate got expelled for the mischief; somehow not me, fortunately.


Note the inside ladder going up to the peak. I had climbed that countless times and traversed the beams like a tightrope walker. Also, the old swing hanging by a rope from a beam evident in the photo below had provided so much fun over the years. We could swing from high in the hay mow on one side and jump out of the swing into the straw mow on the opposite side. The hay was itchy but the straw was soft, cushy and much lighter than hay. That’s why we always built our tunnels in the straw mow. They were so such fun, literally creating and exploring a multi-layer maze within the straw.


Once all four sides were removed, the sheet metal roof was taken off followed by removal of the floorboards and rugged support beams.


And finally the superstructure was fully disassembled.


Now we'll have to wait until the barn is reconstructed in Virginia. My brother and our sons will someday take a road trip to check it out once the barn is fully restored. We might time it with a visit to Augusta for the Masters, another item on our bucket lists.

Here are some memorable photos with the old barn in the background.


Mom & Dad on their 40th wedding anniversary still fitting in her dress and his suit.


Family photo from around 1985 with the homestead in the background.


Hopefully someday in the future, there will be another rainbow over the old barn creating more pot-of-gold memories for the new owners.

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