Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Road Hawks - 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

Road Hawks

A hot rod show called Autorama is held annually in the dead of winter, a fantastic interlude from the cold. Although I could not attend this year, past events were really fun with lots of customized cars to get you thinking about summer’s Woodward Dream Cruise documented in these previous blogposts Thanks to the internet, photos of the Autorama hot rods on display at the show were readily available, as shown on this link to 100 of the best wild rides.

My personal favorite was this 1952 Ford Crestline Victoria because it reminded me of the cars driven by members of the Road Hawks hot rod club in Ft. Loramie during the 1950’s. Their trademark was a Road Hawk plate like the one shown below attached to the bottom of the rear license plate. All the Road Hawk cars were low riders like the ’52 Ford so the Road Hawk plate would scrape the pavement and sparks would fly especially at night.

The Road Hawk’s all dressed and combed their hair like James Dean in the 1955 movie Rebel Without A Cause.

The Gaier brothers were the coolest Road Hawks, as they all looked and acted somewhat rebellious, while also having the fast cars to match since their dad Gus and his brother Chub owned Gaier’s Garage in Ft. Loramie, now Gaier’s Chrysler Dodge Jeep dealership and long-time Fish Report sponsor.

One of the brothers, Gus, Jr. passed away recently and his obituary included this appropriate reference to the Club:

"August was a member of St. Michael Catholic Church, the Fort Loramie Athletic Boosters, Newport Sportsman's Club, Shelby County Crappie Club and the infamous Road Hawks. Jr. "Old Bluegill" was an avid fisherman and league bowler. He also enjoyed Redskin basketball and baseball, especially when his grandchildren were playing”.

Junior’s wife, Carol, still had his old Road Hawk’s jacket, as modeled in this photo by her grandson. Here’s a list of the Road Hawks members that Junior’s younger brother, Rich recalls, plus one more not on the list, Urban Boeke, as he lived on a farm just down the road from us.

Dad would get really upset when young Urb sped down Friemering Road where our farms were located going about 80mph with the exhaust cut-out emitting a deep roar heading into the curve approaching SR705.

The Road Hawks drove cars that had been lowered, chopped and customized with fender skirts, decals and a racy paint job. This baby epitomized the hot rods at the time:

My love for cars began at a young age as described in this previous blogpost and was reinforced in first grade because a neighbor Joe and I had a little car game we played while riding the school bus each morning. We would sit in the back seat of the bus and play by identifying various cars along the bus route, writing down their make, model and license number in a little notebook we kept. Car owners in Ft. Loramie at the time had license plates that all ended in “VP”. Out-of-area plates gained extra points; so did out-of state tags, but the first to spy a car with a Road Hawk plate automatically won the game that day.

Eventually the Road Hawks evolved into the Ft. Loramie Racing Team, which was located in the small building formerly Tony’s Body Shop if I recall, on SR66 just south of Al’s Place in Ft. Loramie pictured below that today is of all things a day care center! Back in the day, the Club had a great bar in the lower level, for sure long gone before becoming a daycare center.

Marvin Smith in Car #1 driving for the Ft. Loramie Racing Team

In 1991, several of the offspring from the Loramie Racing Team/RoadHawks formed Redskin Motorsports located west of Ft. Loramie on the site of the former Busse slaughterhouse, memories of which are documented in this previous blogpost.

The team won a championship back in 2016 as documented in this SDN article. No doubt that Road Hawk heritage helped with their success along the way.

In memory of the Road Hawks, I’d like to dedicate one of my favorite songs entitled “Hot Rod Heart” by John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival fame. Enjoy!


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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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