Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Lunar Rover - 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

Lunar Rover

Lunar Rover
Martian Rover

This past week's successful Mars landing of an unmanned rover (click here for a video simulation of the mission) brought back memories of the lunar rover vehicle (LRV) used on the Apollo missions to the moon in the early 1970’s. At the time, I was studying engineering at General Motors Institute, now Kettering University. General Motors was heavily involved in the design of the lunar rover and in 1969, we students were given a presentation by the project leader. I can vividly recall him using the term “moon buggy” to describe the LRV. The following excerpt from a publication at the time recently sent to me by the widow of a GM Chief Engineer who used to live next to us describes the challenges faced by the LRV design team.

Wernher von Braun originally suggested the idea of a lunar rover in the early Fifties and, though a number of studies explored the concept of a manned lunar rover in the Sixties, NASA didn't include such a rover in its initial Apollo plans. However, GM persisted in its efforts to get NASA to agree to a rover, based on the need to "maximize the scientific return" from the Apollo missions would be better served by including a rover that would allow the astronauts to roam farther and for longer periods of time than if they were to explore just on foot. "The decision to proceed came in 1969, about the time of Neil Armstrong's historic landing on the moon.

When NASA signed off on the LRV, it stipulated that the vehicle had to minimize weight and volume (no more than 35 square feet and 400 to 600 pounds) and still be able to carry about 1,000 pounds worth of astronauts, their equipment, tools, cameras, and rock samples, while maximizing range on the Moon. In addition to the volume and weight limits, the LRV had to cope with the airless and dusty surface of the moon where temperatures swing from -280 degrees Fahrenheit during lunar night and in the shadows and valleys up to 260 degrees in the lunar day. What's more, the rover needed to perform well - remaining stable on slopes of up to 45 degrees - it needed to accommodate astronauts in bulky space suits, and it needed to incorporate enough redundancy so that no single point failure shall abort the mission and no second failure endanger the crew.


To get the LRV on the Apollo 15 mission, slated for July 1971, NASA gave GM and partner Boeing (for the LRV sensors and on board equipment) a year and a half to provide the LRV. To quote the project leader, Saverio Morea, "Nobody could really visualize it. That’s why I built a little 1/6 scale model and with that, people could see it. Some of the pieces that needed machining we did in the shop at GM, but I made most of it and assembled it here at home. For the wheels, I bought some stainless steel mesh off the shelf and cut it to the right size, rolled it into a cylinder and then knitted the ends into a torus (donut) shape.


The 1/6 scale was perfect for the passenger, an Astronaut G.I. Joe with a silver Mercury-type space suit that I borrowed from my son. My wife and I made an Apollo backpack. She helped to sew the folding seats. The instrument panel and the steering joystick, the wire wheels with the titanium bumpers, the folding seats, the way the front and rear sections folded up and the wheels tucked in; it was all accurate, all to scale. And it was radio-controlled, so you could unfold it, sit G. I. Joe in the seat, and drive it on the floor. We pitched the project to NASA, including a visit to von Braun’s office where I guided the model Rover over the carpet to his desk. He exclaimed, ‘ Vat the heck is dis?" in his heavy German accent.


In all, GM and Boeing delivered four LRVs, an earthbound trainer for the astronauts to familiarize themselves with the LRV's controls and operation, and a half-dozen developmental models at a price tag of $38 million, or double what the contract originally specified. The first of the LRVs went up on Apollo 15 as planned with a placard attached to it describing it as "Man's first wheels on the moon, delivered by Falcon, July 30 1971." In their 18.5 hours of extravehicular activity, astronauts Dave Scott and James Irwin put a total of 17.25 miles on their LRV, ranging as far as 3.1 miles from the landing module. The next two Apollo missions saw their LRVs travel 38.8 more miles total, with Eugene Cernan at one point exceeding the LRV's 8 MPH top speed with an 11.2 MPH run, setting the lunar land-speed record.


At the end of each mission, rather than fold up the LRV and return it to Earth, the astronauts parked their LRVs some distance away from the Landing Modules, aimed the video cameras toward the LM, and left them to film the launches from the lunar surface. "I think even today, if we went back with two batteries we could put them in, power it up and go again," Apollo 16's Charles Duke recently claimed. "I’ve always said, if you want an $8 million car with a dead battery, I can tell you where to go get one.”


Other than some literal fender-benders - in one instance, one of the crews had to improvise a fender repair using their maps - the three LRVs performed as intended and merited great praise from the astronauts who drove them, according to Morea. "All had very positive comments about its handling, performance, reliability, and the sort of machine the LRV was. In fact, the superlatives flowed quite easily in all the mission debriefings," he wrote. The LRV's had a small but significant role in saving the Apollo missions entirely after the infamous Apollo 13 near-disaster The LRV's not only kept the public interested in the moon-landing missions, they also helped justify the scientific aspect of the missions - an aspect that would not have been possible without the LRV.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2021

55 Super Bowls - 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

55 Super Bowls


This past Super Bowl was number LV (55), with the first occurring in 1967. I remember them all, some much more than others. That first Super Bowl game between the NFL Green Bay Packers and AFL Kansas City Chiefs won by the Packers 35-10, was named retroactively two years later when the big game was officially named the Super Bowl, but the Roman numeral designation didn’t occur until 1971 for Super Bowl V.



That first Super Bowl game is vaguely remembered, but not for the game itself. All I really remember is two guys in rocket packs pictured above who flew around the stadium. That got my attention as an engineering student at the time.


As a Tom Brady fan, I was pleased with the outcome of the game. But I did miss the quasi-streaker while watching the game! The next morning a friend had texted me the above photo, which got my attention as well as the following message:

I went to bed Sunday at midnight thinking Tom Brady had won the Super Bowl.

The next morning I read on the internet that the Kansas City Chiefs scored 23 points at 4 am to beat the Tampa Bay Bucs 32-31.

A comment in the article stated:

"But the 23 points at 4:00 AM did NOT constitute "widespread" cheating and there is "no evidence" of cheating. Further, an elected official in Kansas City "certified" the victory of the Chiefs, and the NFL front office went along with that certification. When Brady objected, he was told that he has "no standing" to complain. Then all the media sports writers as a mob did a gang up and pile on and accused Brady of lying, bad sportsmanship, and hurting the NFL and said he should be quiet and go away. Some hot dogs were thrown at the referees, and Brady was accused, but later there was video showing that the hot dogs were thrown by some Chiefs fans. YouTube and Twitter removed all content about Brady or the game. And the NFL accused Brady of cheating. The NFL declared that Brady should never play football again.”

As a Michigan grad, I became a Tom Brady fan long before his Super Bowl heroics. During the 1999-2000 season, he lead his Wolverines to victories over both Ohio State (Big House) and Alabama (in OT @ the Orange Bowl) coming from behind in both games. Here’s the highlights of the game with the Bucks.


Tom Brady, make room for ring #7! And #8 isn’t out of the question.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Mr. Gagermeier - 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

Mr. Gagermeier


Our principal during my school years at Ft. Loramie was Wayne Gagermeier. He passed away recently at age 90, just weeks after his wife of 64 years. Mr Gagermeier was an intimidating administrator who ruled in a firm but fair manner. In those days, the paddle was the primary means of discipline, and he used it to the max. Trust me, I, along with many others, were victims of his discipline.

Here’s an interesting excerpt from Mr. Gagermeier's obituary about his years in education:

In everything Wayne approached, he always first made inquiries, researched, and analyzed before delving into a new project. In fact, Wayne was a voracious reader, and could often be found with a book in his hand. It was then fitting that his life's work was in education, working first as a teacher of History in the Fort Loramie Schools in 1957, then becoming a principal there, and finally serving as the Superintendent of Fort Loramie Schools —approximately a 20 year career there in all. He then labored as the Assistant Superintendent of the Shelby County Schools for another 16 years, overseeing Anna, Botkins, Fairlawn, Fort Loramie, Jackson Center, and Russia Schools. One of his greatest accomplishments while serving in that capacity was to help establish the Upper Valley Joint Vocational School that serves all of the Shelby County schools and other nearby districts for students wanting to pursue a vocational career. He worked tirelessly to plan, organize, and finally open the school that has served this region and thousands of students for over 45 years.

After sending an email with his obituary to fellow Ft. Loramie alums, I received the following remembrances about our old principal:


Sister:
I had him for Ohio History in the 8th grade. If he was 20 min. late, he was early. Quite often recently, I saw him at Kroger in Sidney. It's been a long time since I spoke with him. I think he hunted deer on our farm a long time ago. We also sold straw to him.

Friend:
Thanks for sharing his obit. Wayne was fair and demanded discipline as it took a few of his whack's to realize who was boss. Ouch!

Classmate:
During Study Hall, Wayne was always studying for his Master’s Degree and reading with his head down. So I decided to nail him with my squirt gun. He traced the line of water back to my area, then made 3 or 4 of us stand in front of the study hall hoping our gun would leak in our pants (or pee in our pants!). Luckily neither did! He would have killed me! I told him that story last year at (Chemistry teacher) Bob Tenny’s 90th birthday party at the Moose. It pissed him off all these years later and he said something like “Better not try that today!” DIDN’T laugh about it...! He was Mr. Stern till the end.


Classmate:
Fair History Teacher; Not in Paul Amann’s league as a teacher. He and Superintendent Elmer Hinkle made a good administrative team...and they all drove school buses for extra income. Good memories.

Someone had written this in my sister's 1972 yearbook:
No more “Soft Shoe” Elmer Hinkle; "Sugar Bear” Wayne Gagermeier is now Superintendent.



Mr. Gagermeier stayed on as superintendent until 1977, the year of Loramie's first basketball state championship, which created the community spirit and momentum to fund and build the new school alleviating the overcrowding referenced in the yearbook page above.

Brother-in-law:
If I was sent to his office, we'd just started talking hunting and fishing and then the problem didn’t seem so bad to Mr. Gagermeier.

Cousin:
Oh my—his wife just died! No doubt he wanted to join her 


Younger brother:
Yes indeed, I was scared of him at a young age. His nickname Sugar Bear fit him well. One story I remember about him raiding a party at a friend’s house, They had just tapped a 16 gallon keg of beer and supposedly Sugar Bear showed up, picked up the keg with one hand, said yep looks like it was just freshly tapped and took it with him. Not knowing how much that full keg weighed but some of the people there said they were pretty impressed that he just lifted it up so easily. (Editors note: A full 16 gal. keg weighs 105 pounds!)


RIP, Sugar Bear, I mean Mr. Gagermeier.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Jackson Center Standout - 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

Jackson Center Standout


During halftime of Friday’s live stream of the Russia-Jackson Center boys basketball game, Fish Report announcers Craig and Ken referenced several scoring records for the Jackson Center Tigers over the years. Included in their rundown was the fact that the 1967 team still held the scoring record of 122 points in one game. The SCAL was much more run and gun in those days compared to today, and as Craig pointed out in his commentary, the cracker box gyms were a lot smaller back then.

One of the standouts on that JC team was longtime Russia resident and businessman Dale Nichols, who also happens to be Craig’s father-in-law! I had the pleasure of playing against Dale back in my Ft. Loramie playing days. He was a tough rival who could score and really run the court. Dale was the best foul shooter in the county, having hit 31 in a row at one point during the season, which is also a school record the still stands. Like a lot of my basketball competitors from around the county, I quickly became friends with him off the court.

After games on Friday night, many players, cheerleaders and fans from nearby Loramie, Russia and Houston would congregate at Louie’s in Newport where Scudzy's in today. I had written about those times in this previous blogpost. Well, Dale would trek all the way from Jackson Center after his game and join us at Louie’s for a cherry coke or some such beverage. Because of the long drive, he'd arrive late and would invariably work the room, connecting up with all the players to chat about the results of the games around the county.


Dale would inevitably end up at a booth where a special Russia cheerleader named Kathy was seated with her friends. According to legend, a year earlier, cheerleader Kathy had spotted Dale at an early season Jackson Center-Russia game and declared on the spot that he’s the guy she was going to marry. And if you know Kathy like I and so many other people do, that’s exactly what she did a few years later and they’ve been happily married ever since. And now she’s Craig’s one-of-a-kind mother-in-law and also mother and grandmother to the crew pictured above! Kathy and I both worked at Frigidaire in Dayton one summer during college, and I recall her trying to set me up with a younger cousin of hers, but I headed off to college before the blind date could be arranged. As it turned out, her cousin is now my wife! We eventually met on a double date with opposite partners, and the rest is history, but we often wonder what would have happened had we met at that earlier time.

Dale continued to play basketball even after high school with some new Russia teammates


Speaking of high school basketball back then, it was great to read in Fish Report about the tribute Wapak High did for the old Buckland high school, which was consolidated into Wapak in 1965. I recall playing Buckland before the consolidation. They also had a team in the uber-competitive Tri-County basketball league I played in after high school. The old high school was refurbished and converted into an elementary as pictured here. Buckland was consolidated about the same time Fairlawn high school was formed out of several smaller schools in southeastern Shelby County. After those consolidations, there always was a fear that local schools elsewhere around the county would be combined. That fear thankfully motivated a lot of successful millage votes over the years to keep the individual schools funded as recorded in this previous blogpost. Long live the SCAL!


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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Contour Farming - 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

Contour Farming


The above photo was recently posted to the facebook page of the Shelby County Soil and Water Conservation District. Shown is Ferd Fleckenstein doing some contour plowing on his farm north of Ft. Loramie in 1951. It caught my eye because in the background behind the tractor is our family farm as well as my grandparent's barn on the far left. I was about 3 years old at the time. Contour farming was a new approach being encouraged to minimize the run-off of top soil during heavy rainstorms. Both the Loramie Creek and the Miami-Erie Canal ran through Ferd’s farm, which also is the site of Peter Loramie’s original trading post and General Anthony Wayne’s Ft. Loramie during the late 1700’s.


Because Ferd's entire farm generally slopped towards the water, plowing in a curve following the contour of the land, then planting in the same manner, tended to slow down the flow of rainwater towards the creek and canal, preventing soil erosion and allowing the water to infiltrate the soil.


In those days, the creek had to be dredged about every decade in order to clear out the silt that has washed into the creek from unrestricted rainwater runoff. Contour farming as well as laying drainage tile helped filter the rainwater before it ran into the creek and avoid the wash-outs during heavy rainfall.


As shown in the photo below of my sister Lucy with our family farm in the background, a wide grass covered buffer strip was formed along the creek bank to slow and further filter the flow of water into the creek. These actions also helped stabilize the bank and keep the creek in a healthy state that allowed fish and wildlife to thrive in and around the water. I can recall enjoying fishing, swimming and ice skating at the creek as a kid as documented in this previous blogpost.


Those steps were effective at restraining the silt build-up in the creek; however, in the 1970’s, soybean farming became prevalent, so farmers stopped rotating between 4 crops (corn, wheat, oats, then hay) and converted to alternating between the two cash crops of corn and beans. The four crop rotation tended to replenish the soil of nutrients, which meant the two crop rotation required much more fertilizer exacerbating the associated run-off issues described earlier because the water was contaminated with the fertilizer.


Then concurrently, large cattle and hog farms emerged, resulting in significantly more manure being spread on the land for fertilizer that also washed into the waterways contributing to the pollution. The creek unfortunately hasn’t been the same with the fish pollution essentially wiped out. Plus, the fertilizers caused significant algae blooms downstream in the summers, creating significant health and safety issues as well as problems with recreation, fishing and wildlife in and around the waterways.


Thanks to the dedicated efforts of organizations like the Shelby Soil and Water Conservation District, a watershed project has been created called the Loramie Valley Alliance, a collaboration among public and private stakeholders working together for the benefit of Loramie Creek and its tributaries. Back in 1994, the Ohio Environmental Protection agency rated the watershed fair or poor for water quality and now after years of steady efforts on behalf of the Alliance and adjacent property owners, portions of the creek downstream of Lake Loramie are rated good or exceptional. Work remains, but the progress is measurable and significant.



Jason Bruns, District Administrator
Ryan Evers, Technician
Justin Wagner, NRCS Resource Conservationist
Daniel Francis, Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Biologist
Sophie Nieport, Education Coordinator
Josh Ward, Technician 

The officers and staff of the SSWCD pictured above are to be commended for their work to improve the waterways in Shelby County. Check out their website at this link; and especially note this interesting educational video about rainwater.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Golf Reunion - 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

Golf Reunion


The first Ft. Loramie high school golf team was formed in 1966, playing at Shelby Oaks in its inaugural year as described in this previous blogpost. We had a reunion of sorts last week when two members of the team, Doug Barhost and I had the privilege of playing a fun round with Shelby Oaks golf pro Rob Fridley down here in Florida. Rounding out the foursome was legendary, now retired, Ft. Loramie dentist, Dr. John Campbell. Doc was just coming off back surgery and played amazingly well.

Doug taught history in the Sidney school system, and in 1973, Rob was one of his students. We talked about the fact that long-time teachers tend to remember only their best and worst students, and none of the rest, so obviously Rob wasn’t in that forgotten group, but we couldn’t get it out of either Doug or Rob just how he remembered Rob. My guess is since Doug loved sports and with Rob being an athlete who’s has a very successful 44 year career at Shelby Oaks, he was grouped with the best.

Do the math as you’ll figure out that Rob started at Shelby Oaks at a teenager likely working on the maintenance crew for peanuts so he could play golf for free. It was well worth the effort as he’s a great golfer who ascended to the head pro position in 1982 before he had actually graduated from college at Tiffin University. He's held the position ever since. Here’s an interesting SDN article about how the course came to be.


The situation has reversed for Rob and Doug, as now Rob is the teacher, helping Doug’s game tremendously, as just a few years back, Doug was going to give up golf. Even though Doug’s a leftie, Rob has him somewhat copying the swing pattern of pro golfer Bryson DeChambeau with his mechanics and alignment. Everything is square to the ball and as a result, all aspects of his game have improved from driving to putting where he’s now playing several times a week. No doubt at the end of Rob’s career, Doug will be considered one of Rob’s more memorable students, likely on both extremes, cause Doug used to be a poor golfer and is now pretty good. You should have seen the old left hander play on that first high school team!

With a group like this, the conversation is bound to turn from golf to beer as the round goes on, not planning our next shot, but where we’re going for a brewski after golf! Doug didn’t disappoint, as he said there’s a sports pub with outdoor seating nearby named Johnny Malloys. So off we headed after golf to tell more stories.





With our beer in hand, we commented how the craft brews have rally taken ahold, with Malloy’s offering dozens of choices, while back in our day, Budweiser, Strohs and Pabst were the primary mainstay brands. And before that, our parents enjoyed the German brands from Cincinnati described in this previous blogpost. Speaking of German beers, check out this video. 


I shared the story about how my Dad has converted our old Frigidaire to a beer cooler placed in our summer kitchen on the farm. He had drilled a hole for the tapper right in the door and kept the temperature just above freezing, so that old frig provided the coldest beer around. After telling the story, Rob asked what a summer kitchen was, so Doug, the old history teacher, proceed to expound on the history of the summer kitchen. Rob was sorry he had asked! Once a history teacher, always a history teacher!


PS: You might ask why Doc Campbell is considered “legendary”. Just ask around Ft. Loramie and you’ll find out!

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