Tuesday, October 29, 2019

WOWO Radio - Dave's Midwestern Ohio Memories

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

WOWO Radio

When helping Dad milk cows as a kid on the farm, we would always listen to WOWO, 1190 on the AM dial, a 50,000 watt clear channel station broadcasting out of Ft. Wayne. Dad felt WOWO had the most accurate weather forecasts since Ft. Wayne was west of us and their weather eventually made its way to midwestern Ohio. Most of the time, for a farmer, guessing the weather with some accuracy made all the difference in the world to crop yields, whether at planting or harvesting time. But when he guessed wrong, WOWO was to blame. Below is a photo of the WOWO weather wheel that was used to predict the weather back then. No wonder Dad blamed them!

Also, guessing the best time to sell the harvested crops was doubly important, and WOWO had endless reports of grain and livestock futures from the Chicago Board of Trade, the prime midwest source for commodity prices.

I recall Dad going on a bus tour sponsored by the local chapter of the Future Farmers of America (FFA) at Ft. Loramie High school to see first hand the trading floor of the CBOT. Because the bus traveled through Ft. Wayne on the way to Chicago, the participants also toured the WOWO studios and were called out on the air by announcer Bob Sievers - 15 minutes of fame for Dad and his traveling companions!!

Sievers, pictured above, would claim the music played on the station relaxed the cows and produced more milk! As an example, listen to Nancy Lee and the Hilltoppers singing Little Red Barn. The lyrics follow:

I was born 'way down in Indiana,
Wish that I were there right now.
Want to hear my dog bow-wow
When I go to milk the cow.
Raised on corn 'way down in Indiana,
So was ev'ry little hen.
I was mighty happy then;
Wish that I were back a-gain:
In a little red barn on a farm down in Indiana,
Let me lay my back on a stack of new mown hay.
'Round the barnyard where the farmyard folks are pally,
Let me dilly-dally all the live-long day.
I'm a Hoosier who's blue, thru and thru, and my heart is pining
For the sycamore trees where the Wabash breezes play.
What's more, I'm pining for a yellow moon that's shining
On a little red barn on a farm down Indiana way.
Work was done 'way down in Indiana,
Picked the eggs the chickens lay;
Pushed the plow and pitched the hay;
Ev'ry day a busy day.
Had my fun 'way down in Indiana
When the sun would go to rest.
Saw it sinkin' in the West;
That's the time I liked the best.

WOWO was the first radio station in the world to broadcast a live basketball game - where else but Indiana? It was broadcast from the studio with “live feed” from a Western Union telegraph ticker at the Indiana High School State Championship game in 1924 won by Martinsville over Frankfort 36-30. Both high school coaches in that first broadcast finals game went on to very successful careers in the college ranks. Amazingly, legendary UCLA coach John Wooden was a freshman on that winning team, repeating again in 1927 when he was a senior.

Back to WOWO, for me, the most memorable aspect of their daily broadcast was the segment by Paul Harvey, which will be the topic of next week’s blog. Good Day!


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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

I75 Construction - Dave's Midwestern Ohio Memories

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

I75 Construction

 Brent Spence Bridge Construction over the Ohio River

It dawned on me recently while passing a drivers training vehicle on the freeway that when I received my drivers license permit at age 15 back in 1963, there were no freeways in the area. Dad had trained me how to drive using surface streets, the only roads available. It wasn’t until 4 years later during my sophomore year in college that I75 opened through Ohio. Going to college in Michigan during my freshman year meant long, 5 hour drives via US Routes 25 and 23 with countless traffic lights along the way especially around Toledo. Plus the I75 construction made maneuvering through that city even more challenging and time consuming.

Once I75 was completed, the drive time shortened to only 3 1/2 hours. Meanwhile, heading south during those days before the interstate yielded similar problems. For example, going to a Reds ballgame took 3 hours using only surface streets, except for one stretch of US 25 in Cincinnati called a Limited Access Urban Highway that had been constructed during WWII.

These highway concepts really took hold after the war when former General Eisenhower, then President, conceived of the Interstate Highway system after observing how the network of autobahns in Germany was a critical enabler to the Third Reich's war machine. In fact, he dictated that every five miles a straightaway should exist for the purpose of landing military aircraft in an emergency.

As I75 was being constructed through Shelby County, land that had been purchased for the freeway right-of-way divided numerous farms with parcels on each side of the freeway. The farmers had to transport their equipment to the nearest freeway overpass miles away to access their land. It was considered a real hardship back in the day, but Dad had little sympathy for those farmers as they were paid a nice premium for the land purchased by the federal government. It took a lot of dirt to build up the overpasses, so land was also acquired that was dug out for the overpass fill, eventually creating ponds all along the length of the freeway.

Russell Road I75 Overpass northwest of Sidney

Before the interstate, I recall a visit to Crosley Field, where the Reds played at the time, parking on the area where I75 was being constructed as shown on this aerial photo. Note the Crosley Field bleachers in right field; check out this previous blogpost on watching a Reds game from that venue during Johnny Bench’s rookie season.

The last section of I75 to be completed was through Dayton and it created quite a traffic disruption. The summer between my freshman and sophomore year in college was especially problematic because I was living at home while working in Dayton at Frigidaire. I would help Dad milk the cows, drive to work then return after the shift in time to help him milk that evening. With gas only 39 cents a gallon, I was able to save a lot of money by avoiding room and board costs that summer, which helped me eventually afford a new car that I had posted in this recent blog.

I75 literally divided Dayton down the middle and was a major contributor in my view to some of Dayton’s subsequent urban issues. The very last segment of I75 to be completed was the Needmore Road intersection north of Dayton that had the only stoplight between Cincinnati and Toledo, creating an intersection that was notorious for many accidents as drivers were not used to stopping.

Another interesting phenomenon about I75 is how the exit intersections evolved over the years, starting initially with a gas station or two, then fast food places, followed by shopping centers, big box stores and businesses that unfortunately led to the detriment of many downtowns like Sidney. Take a look at this aerial photo of the SR 47-I75 interchange that 50 years ago was all farmland!

Now over 50 years later, the entire I75 stretch through Ohio is being rebuilt literally from the ground up. Bridges are being replaced and widened while roadways are being expanded to three lanes. So traveling back home is like deja vu all over again with construction zones from Toledo south that never seem to finish.

Back to my lack of drivers training on the interstate, my first trip on the new freeway back in 1967 resulted in a traffic ticket for going 80 mph. My ’62 Chevy seemed like a brand new car traveling over the smooth roadway. The speed just got away from me - so I explained to the cop - to no avail. The ticket cost me $25 plus a trip to traffic court. It wasn’t my last ticket along that venerable highway that I’ve traveled so many times over the years. Now the cops simply take a credit card to pay the $200 fine!


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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Pro Wrestling - Dave's Midwestern Ohio Memories

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

Pro Wrestling

Sixty years ago, a neighborhood friend and I talked our Dad’s into taking us to a pro wrestling match in Minster. Back in those days, as kids we were enthralled with the pro wrestlers who were on TV, and now those same stars were coming to our area so we just had to see them live. The nicknames of the wrestlers were very memorable, such as BoBo Brazil, Calipso Kid, Killer Kowalski, Russian Bear, Dick the Bruiser (who also played for the Green Bay Packers), Nature Boy Buddy Rogers, Gorgeous George, Bearcat Wright, Sheik, Crusher and Haystacks Calhoun to name a few. But our favorites were Handsome Johnny Barend and Magnificent Maurice, a tag team who headlined the evening by wrestling in the final championship bout. They were fighting BoBo Brazil and the Calipso Kid for the championship. I distinctly recall the gigantic championship belts the two wrestlers were wearing when they entered the ring.

Magnificent Maurice and Handsome Johnny Barend

The elevated boxing ring was set up in the middle of Minster’s football field just north of the high school at the time on Hanover Street. Chairs were arranged all around the ring for spectators. Our seats were in about the 3rd row, a factor that will come into play later. Some of the lessor known wrestlers fought in the earlier bouts, and some didn’t even have nicknames yet, nor were they very good or entertaining. Entertainment is the key, as the wrestling was totally fake, but we enjoyed every minute. The ring was literally spring loaded so that the wrestlers were not hurt when taken down on a throw or when jumping from the corner post onto their opponent like shown on this photo of Pedro Morales about to land on the Russian Bear.

In the feature bout, our heroes were getting creamed by BoBo Brazil and the Calipso Kid, with BoBo using his patented CoCo butt and pile driver moves. Maurice and Barend were both known for their antics and that night was no exception. One of the two grabbed the corner water bucket where the fighters spit between rounds and proceeded to throw the liquid on their opponents; however, they ducked and the contents went spraying all over the audience right where we were sitting, which fortunately turned out to be just confetti! Another antic came near the end of the bout when Maurice tagged Barend and then proceeded to literally craw under the ring emerging on the opposite end to blind side their two opponents who had ganged up on Barend, knocking them down and pinning both simultaneously to win the bout and claim the championship belt. Perfect ending to a fantastic night of big time wrestling. Even our Dad’s were entertained! Check out this YouTube video of a 3 man tag team match with the the same wrestlers.

Fast forward 28 years to 1987, when my son and I along with 93,000 other fans witnessed Hulk Hogan fight Andre the Giant during Wrestlemania III at the Pontiac Silverdome. Hulk body slammed the 525 pound Andre to win the exciting match. Here's the closing minutes of that memorable bout.


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Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Bald Tires - Dave's Midwestern Ohio Memories

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

Bald Tires

My alma mater, Kettering University, in Flint, Michigan is celebrating its 100th anniversary this month. The technological university began in 1919 as General Motors Institute and I attended between 1967 and 1971. We coop students alternated between school and work each quarter. As a freshman in 1967, during work periods, my job was foreman at GM’s Frigidaire Division in Dayton and it paid $4.50 per hour, just above the base wage of the hourly employees being supervised. During a typical work period, I could just earn enough money to cover tuition plus room and board, with little pocket cash left over for essentials and fun stuff.

In the fall of 1967, after completing my first quarter at school, the tires on my ’62 Chevy were worn smooth, but replacements were out of the question until after my first paycheck back at work. It was a cold and rainy Friday in Flint as the last of my finals was over and I immediately headed for home. Back in those days, Flint had many brick paved streets and when they were wet, traction was at a premium. To this day, the main drag, Saginaw Street, remains brick paved.

The bricks, bald tires, cold, rainy conditions and rush to get home all contributed to an accident where I slid into the car in front of me at a stop light less than 3 blocks from school. Both my front bumper and the rear bumper on the car I hit driven by a little old lady were damaged, but fortunately both cars were drivable. So after exchanging insurance information, we went on our way without having to call the police. Given that scare, I concluded it was better to head back to my nearby fraternity house and stay the night before heading home the next morning under better conditions, because the tires seemed fine on dry pavement. It also gave me time to call my insurance agent, Harry Frilling in Ft. Loramie about the accident. He immediately called the old lady and was able to quickly take care of her damages. Meanwhile, the deductible on my policy was about the cost of a new bumper, so after receiving that first paycheck from Frigidaire, a used bumper from a junk yard and some retread tires were purchased all for under $100, eating up most of the proceeds from that first week’s work.

Retread tires were the norm back then, a useful means of extending the life of tires. However, once radial tires were invented in the 1970’s, retreading died out except for truck and agricultural use. Speaking of which, check out this previous blog about a trip to Florida later in my college years on a set of tires “for farm use only”!

About that time, the UAW was on a 68 day strike like now, but they had targeted Ford, not GM, so we weren't impacted, except the wage increases garnered from the strike eventually worked their way to us coop students, providing a much needed boost to our meager incomes. The impact was short-lived, however, as GMI naturally raised their tuition rates since the professors and staff were all GM employees who also received wage increases! Those frugal times lasted another two years until 1969 when I took out a tuition loan and used my pay instead to buy my first new car for $1800, a 1969 Chevy Nova SS, after trading in the ’62. No more retreads for me!

Eventually met my wife while driving that first new car, which to this day brings back so many special memories; more fodder for a future blog. Stay tuned.


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Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Homecoming - Dave's Midwestern Ohio Memories

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


My bucket list includes attending a football game at Ft. Loramie High, since football wasn’t played when I attended and didn't start until well after we moved to Michigan. A few years back, our 50th high school reunion was actually scheduled on the weekend of a football game, but I couldn’t attend due to a destination wedding that same weekend. Bummer!

This coming weekend is Homecoming and the Redskins are playing football Friday night against the St. Henry Redskins. There’s a party after the game called Loramie Gate, plus for sure the Seniors will be enjoying the traditional homecoming dance on Saturday night. It would have been a perfect weekend to work on my bucket list, but unfortunately not this year.

Since we didn’t have football back in the ’60’s when I attended high school, Homecoming was held during the basketball season. That typically meant cold and snowy weather, which was definitely the case during my junior year. Our class was in charge of decorating the gym for the big dance, which we dutifully performed the morning before. However, there was a huge snowstorm underway that caused the dance to be cancelled. I had to call my date for the dance with the bad news. And to make matters worse, good money was spent for a nice corsage that went to waste. I recall my younger sisters taking turns wearing it around the house for a few days afterwards.

Valentine’s Day was the next weekend, so to make up for the Homecoming Dance cancellation, several of my friends and our dates got together the following Saturday night. That meant having to not only buy dinner, but also a Valentine’s gift (on top of the corsage my sisters enjoyed); so once the snow melted, I headed to a Sidney department store to buy my date a pink sweater and a Valentine’s Day card.

For the next Homecoming Dance during my senior year, we hit Louie’s (now Scudzy’s) in Newport for a beer before picking up our dates. Back then in Ohio it was legal at age 18 to purchase beer with 3.2% alcoholic content; however, because of basketball training rules, I unfortunately could not partake. However, fast forward to the Prom later in the Spring after basketball season was over, we again went to Louie’s between the Prom banquet and the dance. Louie, knowing that we were all seniors, brought out a bottle of “aged” cherry vodka for a toast to the occasion. Note that we were all wearing white prom jackets as shown in this photo of me and a classmate Frank during the banquet. Had the photo been taken later at Louie’s or the dance, you would have seen a streak of bright red cherry vodka that has spilled down the front of my jacket during one of the infamous Louie toasts! Fortunately, the dry cleaner was able to get out the stain as the jacket had been borrowed from a fellow classmate’s older brother.

During high school, I never “went steady” with anyone. In those days, when a guy gave a girl his class ring, which she would wear with yarn wrapped around the ring to make it fit, they were considered “going steady”.

However, one girl I dated had a curfew at 1:00 and mine was 12:30, which caused all kinds of problems! Dad claims he wanted to make sure I was up and at’ em for cow milking and pig feeding the next morning! BS! So there were many curfew violations, but once I had a legitimate excuse because the air had been let out of one of the tires on my car while parked in my date's parent's driveway. Found out later it was a jealous boyfriend from Houston!

No curfew needed these days, as 10:00 rolls around and off to bed I go! Enjoy Homecoming, Class of 2020. Forget your curfew!


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