Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Football Predictions - 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.

Football Predictions

Paul Stukenborg (1929-2012)
With football season about to start, the prognosticators are making predictions of the rankings and records of local teams, which brought to mind the weekly, sometimes wacky, predictions of Paul Stukenborg in the Community Post. I got to know Paul when he was in Heritage Manor nursing home at the same time as my Dad from 2005-08. In fact, their rooms were right next to each other, so they spent a lot of time together watching baseball on TV. Stukie was a die hard Cubs fan and Dad loved the Reds. The two of them especially enjoyed watching when the two teams faced each other.

Paul died in 2012 and one of the on-line tributes made to Paul came from Ed Ahrns and reads as follows:
"One of my favorite memories of Stuke was back in the seventies when his brother Vernon told me he had 4 tickets for a Reds/Cubs game in the front row by the Reds dugout. He asked me to take one of my boys and drive them to Riverfront. It was raining and the game was being delayed. As we got near our seats we had to pause as the TV lights were on Manager Sparky Anderson and the starting pitcher was being interviewed. When finished the TV lights went off and Sparky looked up at the crowd coming and said.......Hey Paul, what are you doing with that Cubs hat on? We turned around and there was Stuke, a beer in one hand and a brat in the other. Stuke says, Hey Sparky, you know after my Cubbies I like you guys best."
No doubt Paul was in “seventh heaven” with the Cubs finally winning the World Series last fall. Meanwhile, Dad’s still waiting for the Reds to win it all.

In addition to the Cubs, Paul was without a doubt, Minster’s biggest sports fan as well. Plus, he loved the Buckeyes. I don’t ever recall him predicting a loss by either the Wildcats or the Bucks; however, while researching the Community Post archives on the Minster Historical Society website, I found that Stukie did predict the Wildcats to lose 49-0 against Coldwater in 2009 as shown below. True to form, he did predict the Buckeyes to win and as always was the case, the Michigan Wolverines to lose. No doubt, Dad never did tell Stukie I graduated from that “school up north”. Hum, maybe from above, Paul masterminded that cockamamie 4th down spot in OT last fall?

Turns out Minster did lose 35-0 to Coldwater in 2009, meanwhile as predicted, the Bucks won 45-0, and Michigan lost 34-13. He was uncannily accurate most of the time. Paul always pulled for the underdog and typically picked an upset or two each week. In fact, to this day, there is a website called the Men of the Scarlet & Gray that picks the college football underdog of the week in Stukie’s honor. 

Here’s Paul’s obituary that appeared in the Community Post after his death:

Long-Time Sports Contributor Passes

MINSTER — Paul M. Stukenborg, 83, of Minster, a long-time contributor to The Community Post sports section, passed away on Sunday, May 27, 2012, at Heritage Manor Nursing Home.

Stukenborg was well-known for his high school sports predictions, “Stukenborg Says,” which residents looked forward to reading each week for many years.

Naturally, Stukenborg was an avid sports fan, and he was also a member of the Minster Athletic Boosters.

The Community Post staff would like to recognize Stukenborg for his talents and contributions through the years, and extends condolences to family and friends.

Other On-Line Tributes:

Stuke and his brother Vernon were our back yard neighbors growing up. I can distinctly remember many a summer days listening to the Cubs on radio while drinking a Pepsi. His ability to remember every detail of games long gone were astounding for a little boy who loved the game. In high school Stuke was always the main attraction at pep rallies with his predictions and good luck poems. A sad week with his passing but the memories of Stuke and my childhood bring a smile to my face. RIP Stuke!

Posted by Wes Farno - Minster, OH - Neighbor   May 30, 2012

So many memories about Stuke. One is how he waxed my tail in a machine bowling tournament at the Eagles years ago. Another is watching him roll a 600 series at Community Lanes long before the new balls came about. Quite an amazing man.

Posted by Jay Purpus   May 29, 2012

Paul was a legend among area high school sports fans for his support of the Minster Wildcats. I also recall his "fearless predictions" of sporting events in the "Community Post." Whenever I would broadcast a Minster basketball game, I'd mention his prediction on the air. I also remember his fondness for the Chicago Cubs. He once introduced me to their manager, Don Zimmer, at River Downs in Cincinnati. While I'm sad that "Stuke" is gone, the mention of his name still brings a smile to my face.

Posted by Dave Ross - Ft. Loramie, OH   May 28, 2012

Paul will be remembered by me as the most loyal Minster Wildcat Sport and Cub fan that I ever knew. Sports was his life, also as a softball player. He had uncanny memory of folks in this area, he could almost always remember the date of someone's passing. Many good memories of Paul.

Posted by Ed Lachey - Minster, OH - Friend   May 28, 2012

Rest in peace, Paul, and thanks for the memories!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Car Show - 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.

Car Show Brings Back Memories

A week before the annual Woodward Dream Cruise each August, a local Italian restaurant hosts a pre-Dream Cruise car show. The owner of the restaurant, Gino, is the father of one of my son’s best friends from high school, so we always go. The classics bring back memories and this year was no exception. For example, the above beautifully restored 1956 Ford pick-up truck was on display. While growing up, a neighbor had a similar red truck, but only in much rougher condition, more like the one shown below.

But in my minds eye, this idyllic photo is how I recall those days.

Dad’s truck was a yellow Dodge like the vehicle shown below. Even though I worked for Ford, he never upgraded to a Ford truck, primarily because my sister’s husband ran Dodge dealer & long time Fish Report sponsor, Gaier’s Garage in Ft. Loramie.

Ford is sponsoring the Woodward Dream Cruise and since this year is the 100th anniversary of the first Ford pick-up, I expect many restored pick-ups from those 100 years to be cruising the boulevard during that always fun weekend.

Gino’s car show also had a red ’62 Chevy pictured below like my second car documented in this previous blogpost.

Thanks, Gino, for a great cars show and for bringing back some wonderful memories.

Friday, August 18, 2017

D-III Girls Southwest Ohio Cross Country Preview...

The 2017 high school cross country season starts this weekend

I know, I know. The first cross country race of 2017 hasn't even been ran yet and I'm already looking at the entire southwest region of Ohio? Well, yes. With only 7-8 regular season meets for most teams in the area, cross country seems like the shortest schedule in all of high school sports. Also, unlike most other fall sports, there are no conference titles to compete for in August and September, so it's all about building up for the October post season.

Racing officially starts this weekend with the OHSAA Preseason Cross Country Invitational in Hebron. This is where the state championships are ran on November 4th and schools from all over Ohio will journey over to National Trail Raceway on Saturday with hopes of running the course again in 11 weeks. On the contrary, most schools from this area of west central Ohio won't attend the OHSAA Preseason Invite and will instead begin their seasons next week with a local meet.

If you're wondering which schools to keep on the radar for the next several months, below are my predictions for the top Division III girls teams in the southwest region.

Top returners at Ft. Loramie are Danielle Berning and Paige Rethman

Ft. Loramie
If any team is trending up, it's the Ft. Loramie girls. After making a trip to state last year for the first time since 2013 and finishing 17th out of 20 teams, they return the SCAL Runner of the Year in sophomore Paige Rethman and 1st Team All-SCAL classmate Danielle Berning. Both girls had a tendency last year to lead races early and work off one another. Another sophomore, Hannah Siegel, and senior Jenna Thomas were both 2nd Team All-SCAL last year and could challenge early for the top five positions. The strength of head coach Dennis Prenger's Lady Redskins though will most likely be determined by a dynamic freshman class that includes future stars Danielle Eilerman, Corynn Heitkamp, and Caitlyn Gasson. All that youth means plenty of room for growth and that has to have Ft. Loramie fans optimistic for a big 2017.

Back from a track injury, Kara Spitzer should lead the Versailles Tigers

The Lady Tigers have a long history of success in Division III. They won a state title in 2003, were state runner-up in 2004, and captured another title in 2007. In 2015-2016 enrollment numbers bumped the girls up to Division II and that resulted in the first back-to-back seasons of missing the state meet since 1998-1999. Naturally, Versailles fans had to feel excited when it was announced they would return to D-III for 2017. Fans should be more excited about junior Kara Spitzer, who is finally healthy after some injuries cut short her spring track season and she just started practicing recently. After Kara I see seniors Megan Rismiller and Kenia McEldowney, along with junior Liz Watren and sophomore Emma Peters being a core five for head coach Mark Pleiman. Also, I'm keeping my eyes on freshmen Kennedy McEldowney and Lauren Menke who may very well round out the varsity team.

Paige Boehringer is the new front runner for Covington this year

Can the Lady Buccs begin the season as a better team than last year after graduating 4-year star Anna Dunn? Impossible, no they can't. Can they put themselves in position by October to advance to their third consecutive state meet, and just the fourth state meet in program history? Definitely, yes they can. Covington has a budding star in junior Paige Boehringer who ran under 20 minutes in four races last year. The can also put three other girls in the 20's with junior Ashlyn Plessinger and seniors Kelsey Dysinger and Danielle Alexander. I believe the rest of the mix includes senior Emma Danmeyer, junior Chelsea Ford, and possibly freshman Allie Garman. I've gathered one thing about head coach Josh Long's teams over the years. They never seem to begin the season on fire, but they're always right where they need to be for the post season. That's good coaching folks.

Reghan Bieleski of West Liberty-Salem has proven she can run with Ohio's best

West Liberty-Salem
Heading into the 2016 season it was hard for anyone outside of Logan County to imagine West Liberty-Salem advancing to the state meet. That didn't matter to long-time coach Ann Vogel. She built success around an experienced junior in Reghan Bieleski and developed three outstanding freshman in Grace Adams, Lydia Moell, and Payton Umphries, who together led the Big Orange to state for the first time since 2012. Those top four girls are back again this year and it gets even better for West Liberty-Salem fans. I believe two new freshman will have a huge impact in Katelyn Stapleton and Maddie Bahan.  Katelyn should even challenge for the #1 spot in my opinion. Throw in junior Lauren Fowler and the Big Orange might be as good as anyone come October.

Anna Fiessinger and Megan Frazier are part of another talented Russia team

The Lady Raiders are riding a five year streak of state meet appearances, the longest active streak of any D-III girls team in the region. Head coach Doug Foster returns three 1st-Team All-SCAL finishers in senior Megan Frazier and juniors Claire Meyer and Anna Fiessinger. He also returns a 2nd Team All-SCAL runner in sophomore Clare Caldwell. The key for Russia will be finding that all-important fifth runner and there are 3-4 girls capable of stepping up to fill the spot. One girl I'm anxious to see is incoming freshman Becca Seger, who as an 8th-grader finished runner-up at the SCAL Championships last fall and appears to have a lot of potential. I also look for senior Becky Pinchot, junior Emma Delaet, sophomore Andrea Monnin, and freshman Katelyn Monnin to compete for the top seven. Expectations for the girls program at Russia are high, but then again, that's nothing new.

The five schools mentioned above all have strong traditions in girls cross country and will likely battle for the four state qualifying berths earned at the regional meet in Troy come October 28th. Until then, I plan to enjoy the short regular season one Saturday at a time. Finally, if you could care less about teams and just want to know who the biggest individual stars are, look out for sophomore Addy Engel from Catholic Central in Springfield and junior Karmen Knepp from Bradford. Addy's personal record is 18:41 and Karmen's is 18:44, meaning both girls are not only two of the best in the region, they're also two of the fastest runners in Ohio.

Addy Engel and Karmen Knepp might be the best in the southwest this season

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

100th Blogpost - 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.

100th Blogpost

For years I've been an avid reader of Fish Report and would periodically comment about a historical article appearing on the website by sharing my recollections about the subject matter. After several such reflections, Fish Report asked me to consider writing a blogpost about my memories. I agreed, and the first post appeared about two years ago and weekly thereafter each Tuesday. That means this is about the 100th blogpost, give or take. Check them all out at this link.

If you clicked on the link and scrolled all the way to the bottom, you would notice a counter of the number of visitors to the blog site indicating about 65,000. When my first blog was posted, the counter read 15,000. So 50,000 clicks and two years later, here we are!

The blog that received by far the most hits was this March 7th post about WWII hero Vernie Hoying that's been read over 2,000 times! Of course, it helped that Fish Report ran the article as its cover headline that day indicating it would be the best article you’ll read in a while. Not sure which garnered the least hits, but my guess is it would be any blogs about the Michigan Wolverines!

Back two years ago, when considering whether to write the blog or not, I woke up early one morning around 4:00am and started jotting down possible topics for the blog. The list hit 20 ideas in about 5 minutes, proving there was enough subject matter to get started.

The weekly cadence every Tuesday fell into place since that day tended to be the slowest news day each week on the Fish Report. In other words, my blog has been fodder filler!

There are a few fans out there in cyberspace who routinely comment on the posts; many times offering the “rest of the story” or topics for future blogs. For that feedback, I’m grateful. And the Fish Report has been very helpful along the way with last minute edits, tweaks and refinements to make the post more accurate or entertaining. My wife does a great job proof-reading the column, keeping me from embarrassing myself too much! The most interesting part of the weekly routine is doing the research on the blog topic on-line. There’s always some nuance that surfaces to make the subject matter even more memorable. For example, while surfing the net for this blog about long-time SDN sport reporter, Zack Crusey I came upon a photo of his gravestone pictured below that I included in the blog. Amazing what you can find on the internet. 

My list of future blog topics is now up to 87, good for more than another year of posts. So keep checking in every Tuesday.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Go Cart 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.

Go Cart Memories

Growing up on a farm meant early exposure to the equipment and buildings that always seemed to be in need of repair. As a result, Dad had a well stocked tool shed with all kinds of interesting odds & ends inside. Coupled with all the space on a farm, as kids, we seemed to have a natural desire to build objects that moved. The urge started with crude go carts made of wood somewhat like those shown above, only we never used a helmet. Mom always did say we were hard-headed! If we couldn’t find the right items in Dad’s tool shed, we’d scrounge parts from my uncle's even more elaborate tool shed across the road from us.

Naturally, we’d want to race the go carts down hills around the farm very much like depicted in the photo above. It was indeed fun!

Just like new cars and trucks at the time, each year brought a new go cart model, always better than the one before. Braking or steering would be improved, or we'd find an old chair that could be jerry-rigged to the go cart to provide more comfortable seating like the example shown below.

About this time of year each summer, the annual Soap Box Derby would be held in Sidney, followed by the national championship race in Akron. Even though we never entered a car in the downhill race, the thought of doing so was very compelling.

As we grew older, motorizing the go cart became a passion, but a real challenge to accomplish. At the time, old-style reel-type lawn mowers were being replaced with the newer rotary mowers, so finally Dad’s old reel mower was shot, which presented the opportunity and challenge of retrofitting the old lawn mower chassis onto the go cart. Our go cart in the end looked a whole lot like the unit pictured below, although there were no seat belts or horn. Unfortunately, it went no faster than a lawn mower because we were never able to scrounge the right-sized sprockets and chains to speed it up.

One reason was because our interests changed after a neighbor picked up an old Kushman motor scooter like the restored version shown below. His was literally junk, but we loved every minute riding that thing around the farm and into town. Since it sat two, my neighbor and I could and did go about anywhere on that old scooter.

Too often though, it would breakdown and we’d have to fix it just like the guy pictured below with the Kushman in about the same condition as my neighbor's.

Looking back, my experiences during these formative years clearly influenced my eventual career choice to become an automotive engineer. As my wife says, I (and Dilbert) have The Knack!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Mackinac Bridge - 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.

Mackinac Bridge

The above photo of the frozen underside of the Mackinac Bridge was the runaway winner of the 2017 Detroit News photo contest. A friend and fellow retiree participated in the contest, so I took an interest and voted on-line. My friends photo is shown below and was one of the finalists.

My first trip over the Mackinac Bridge occurred in 1968 and was documented in this previous blog post. Since that time, we’ve made a number of trips across the bridge and always come away amazed at the edifice itself as well as the vistas of the straits from the bridge. One can see the entire 5 mile bridge from nearby Mackinaw Island as shown in the panorama below.

The bridge was constructed in 1957 at a cost of $83 million. Imagine what it would cost today? Click this link for an interesting documentary on the bridge construction by legendary announcer Lowell Thomas.

The bridge handles about 5 million crossings per year peaking at 600,000 each month during the summer and dropping to 200,000 a month in winter. Every Labor Day since the bridge opened, Michigan’s governor has lead thousands of walkers across the bridge. For the first time this year, for safety reasons and because the bridge walk has become so popular, the entire bridge will be closed to vehicular traffic during the walk, so imagine the photo below with all lanes filled with walkers.

The Bridge Authority offers charitable non-profits the opportunity raise funds by having their donors bid on a visit to the top of one of the bridge towers. Here’s a short video about the experience including some amazing views.

The above favorite photo shows the bridge at sunset with a huge freighter underneath. And this dramatic video shows the northern lights over the bridge. Finally, check out what’s going on at the bridge at this very moment by clicking this link to the Bridge Authority’s live cams. Check them again on Labor Day morning to see the walkers crossing.

All this bridge talk has gotten me itching for another ride across the straits before the summer is over. Road trip, anyone?

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