Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Buckeye Riviera

This morning I was glancing through Ohio's Greatest Hometown Newspaper, The Columbus Dispatch".

One of my favorite columns is written by Mike Harden. Mike's speciality for the past several years has been to ferret out news items of special interest that would not normally pass the muster as normal news. Besides Harden, the Dispatch has a couple of additional columnists who take a look at items of interest from a different angle and through a different lens.

I love hard news and enjoy a great political debate. Yet seldom do I find a Harden clunker. He for years has presented a different side of life outside the realm of if it bleeds, it leads.

And no, I'm not partial because Mike interviewed me in 2001 when my former employer was shuting its doors. My enjoyment of his work was in place long before that.

This mornings column was about a person who has made it thier passion to be something of a historian of the old Buckeye Lake Amuesment Park. The park is a long forgotten piece of Ohio history. Parks like Buckeye Lake dotted the Ohio countryside as well as in the cities and were popular destination points until the mega parks began and easy highway access to other points began to snuff out their reign.
Buckeye Lake brings back great memories for me. It was the place where in the 1950's (and maybe beyond) my fathers employer had their company picnic. I can remember riding the rides and enjoying the ice cream they gave away to the kids on the midway. It was the first time I had icecream in something other than a cone or dish.

And yes, I remember the entry portal seen in the photo where Route 79 took you after you left the National Road. And while I don't remember Sally Flowers from her years associated with the Moores merchandise stores as depicted in the marquee, I do remember her being on television on WTVN channel 6 with the "Dialing for Dollars" program cohosting with Gene Fullen.

But the most vivid memory was of the Buckeye Lake roller coaster. I never until this day knew it was called "The Dips". The coaster amazed me. It's large to my eyes wooden structure made it the top of my "must ride" list.
The other aspect that captured my imagination was that the coaster after the first hill went out over the water (that my parents always said was dirty) for several hills and dips before returning to unload and reload with a fresh set of people seeking a thrill.

I cried and begged my parents to let me ride the coaster. I don't remember whether it was my mother or father who took me on the ride. But I was scared out of my wits and was crying when I disembarked.

The funny part about all this is the coaster closed after an accident in 1958. I was born in 1955, meaning that at most, I was three years old when I rode the coaster. Even more strange, they apparently let a toddler on an adult coaster. Can you imagine that happening today?

The park continued to operate into the early 60's and coaster stood but remained unused until time, lack of maintenance and weather caused it to collaspe.

My last memory of going to the park was in the late mid 60's and swimming in the pool. It at that time was one of the few remaining remenents of the parks. The pool too is now long gone.

The photos are not mine, but belong to this website. But oddly, they captured the photo memories in my mind.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Mundi, Mundi

In 1990, I was fortunate enough to take a tour of Europe. The first stop as was the last was Munich, Germany. The tour was basically a circle tour of Europe's Alpine region.

While in Munich, I encountered a lady I would never forget. I met her in a church located in the Marienplatz. Mundita was her name. This lady was bedecked in jewels from head to toe. She so reminded me of the title of a song by Seals and Crofts called "Diamond Girl".

To say I was astounded at her appearance would be an understatement. Her features and massive cloaking of jewels left a lasting impression on me. Frankly, I couldn't help but stare at this striking lady. Thankfully for me, I wasn't busted by her noticing my piercing looks and thus I never had to endure that embarrassment.

Although she was older than me, I was interested. Very interested.

I learned however, she was something of a saint especially to single women.

The trip to Europe wasn't something I planned.

My mother was looking to venture beyond the border and decided she wanted to see something she that would have been a once in a lifetime vacation. Unfortunately for her, but fortunately for me, my father had no desire to take the trip. He was genuinely claustrophobic, and an 8-10 hour jet ride would have not had a pleasant ending or for that matter beginning.

Mom was determined to go, but not alone. So she made me a deal.She would pay for the trip as long as I was her escort and I paid for any side trips and incidentals.

It was a deal I couldn't refuse.

Oh, by the way, meet my Mundita

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

In The Beginning

The Book of Genesis begins with the words In the Beginning.

Many things have some sort of beginning.

The Point of Beginning is a mark that indicates the joining of the boundries of Ohio, the now West Virginia and Pennsylvania just east of East Liverpool, Ohio.

When the Point was first laid out, the boundry was Pennsylvania, Virginia and the beginning of the Northwest Territory or land that was given to the federal government by Virginia and other states. The point was chosen because the southern boundry of Pensylvania had been determined at this point, but the western boundry hadn't.

It also marks the beginning location for the surveying of public lands that led to the opening of the Northwest Territory, and is the starting point of the surveys of all other lands to the west, reaching all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

The photos displayed here were taken on Saturday July 21, 2007 at the Ohio-Pennsylvania border. The West Virginia border is some 1100 feet south of these markers at the shore of the Ohio River.

The land is private, owned by a manufacturing company that stradles the Ohio-Pennsylvania border. The marker itself is often under the current of the Ohio river.

If you click on the photos, the wording is easier to read. A more complete history can be found at this link.

The location is just across the river and about a mile down the road from the World's Largest Teapot written about earlier in this blog.

The signs seen in the photos are just across the border from each other.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Built on the Rock

Have you ever seen a tree or plant growing in the most unusual of places. A cornstalk in the pavement of the highway or a weed growing out of a crack in a sidewalk. Or as in this picture, up and out of a rocky area.

The odds are strongly against something like that happening and succeeding. Yet as we can see it does.

Life can sometimes be like that. A seed can be planted in the most unlikely of places. Most of the time it will simply die. But there are those few and remote chances it will flourish.

There is so much that has to come together at the right place and time for this to all work out. And just simply having the strength to last and endure through the storms as well as life in general makes these happenings even more amazing.

The question is, can someone replicate those conditions to allow success? Can someone artificially bring together all the correct elements with the correct timing and make it all work?

Someone could intentionally plant a tree in that exact spot seen in the picture, water it every day, nuture it and still never realize the fruits of their labors. Yet happenstance made a visit and a strong and vibrant tree has sprung from the rock.

This tree has clearly been at this site for many years. It has thrived where many have died long before it and likely long after it. Or never even got a start. It has weathered heat, cold, storms and the threat of disease.

Was this seed designed to thrive and somehow predestined to its stregnth and endurance or was it pure luck?

Some will point to the providence of God in all things. That's possible. But why that tree or weed or stalk of corn when so many have not survived and thrived against the odds?

The purpose for the questions is how all this applies to people. Why do the most unlikely people thrive against the odds and the people who do all the right things seem to try and die? And even after a brief failure, those unlikely few seem to replant and thrive even stronger than before. What is their Miracle-Grow? What is their personal potting soil? What allows them to choose the exact right place to make things happen and grow?

They will tell you it's that they never gave up. They seem even seem exasperated that others simpy can't "just make it happen" like they did. It's almost as if they throw a switch and the juice flows. Once they discover that switch, it seems to work no matter what they do or attempt. How do they do that?

There are some things in life that are simply "do its". You just throw your energy at the project and it can be done. Those "do its" have a great chance at success. But to be the tree in the rock isn't a do it. Something else has taken place.

My guess is all of those seeds that found a place on those rocks seen above never gave up either. As you can see, only a few of the never gave ups didn't fail. Very few. Others worked hard trying to find that right place to latch onto and prosper and never found their place. They never gained traction or were able to plant roots.

As a person or a seed, do you move on to more fertile soil or do you stay and risk a small chance at stregnth and endurance?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

I'm a Big Teapot, Tall & Wide

As you know, we took a road trip to Mountaineer Resort in Newell, West Virginia. I decided to leave the group for a moment and drive to a nearby point to take some photos of some plaques that discuss the beginnings of the range and township way of surveying and mapping the Northwest Territory. I've got photos to share later.

What I had forgotten about was that Chester, West Virginia laid claim to having the World's Largest Teapot. I have seen it in the past, but it was long forgotten in my memory.

I would have missed it again had I not been too cheap to pay the 75 cent toll on the Newell toll bridge to cross back into Ohio. I drove down the road through Chester to cross on the free US Route 30 bridge. Had I been going toward Pittsburg instead of back into Ohio, I would have not seen it.

In the loop to get on the Jennings Randolf bridge to return to Ohio sits the teapot.

According to what I have found, the teapot was put in place in 1938 by William "Babe" Devon. I was going to say built, but found some information that the pot portion of the building was originally built as a Hires Root Beer promotional piece.

The Teapot stood in front of Devon's pottery outlet store on Carolina Ave. Local teenagers were hired to run a concession and souvenir stand which was set up inside the Teapot. It has had a number of owners and came close to being demolished when certain civic minded individuals and businesses worked to save it.

More information on the teapot can be found here.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Slots, Jacks and Scenes

Saturday we're heading to Newell, West Virginia to Mountaineer Resort and Gaming Center.

I was first at this facility about 10 years ago. It was nothing more than a pole barn type structure with a horse track behind it and along the Ohio River. Newell and Mountaineer is located just across the river from East Liverpool, Ohio in the small sliver of West Virginia between Ohio and Pennsylvania called the Panhandle.

Since that time, Mountaineer has undergone an extensive renovation with a theme that reminds me of the Great Gatsby era.

East Liverpool is the larger of the two towns in the area. But it is really what I would consider a depression era town. It's sad. Street after street of homes needing everything from TLC and repair to major renovations and even complete urban renewal. Newell, while smaller, is not really in any different shape.

I'm not keen on slots gambling and have no real desire to bet on the horses. This is a trip to facilitate some out of town family. I only hope my luck holds out enough to break even. Thankfully, I have the sense to only use "blow money", that being my allowance money that I've been saving, and will stop my losses at $50.00. If I have a streak of beginners bad luck, which is normally the case, it won't take me long to give that money away to the one armed bandits.

The only saving grace is that I get to gallivant in an area that is naturally pretty. And there are some interesting markers near where the tri-state borders meet that may merit a visit.

And there's even talk we may go to downtown Pittsburg for dinner and ride the cog train up the incline to see the three rivers area.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out In August

This past Christmas season, we took a road trip to the Christmas Story House.

From an excerpt from the official web page:

The home used in the 1983 film “A Christmas Story” has been renovated to its original movie appearance by its owner, Brian Jones. Jones, 30, of San Diego, purchased the home – sight unseen – in an eBay auction without ever having been to Ohio. Jones purchased the 111-year-old house for $150,000 on Feb. 1, 2005, and spent an additional $240,000 for the restoration work.

Now you can celebrate Christmas in August with the 2007 Rolling Roadshow Tour. The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Rolling Roadshow will be stopping in Cleveland on Sunday, August 5 to show “A Christmas Story” on a giant inflatable screen in the street directly in front of “A Christmas Story” House.

The day’s events will include appearances by some of the original actors including Zack Ward (yellow-eyed school bully Scut Farkus), Scott Schwartz (tongue-to-flagpole-sticking Flick), Yano Anaya (Farkus’ crummy little toady), Ian Petrella (Randy “I can’t put my arms down!” Parker) and mean elves Patty LaFontaine and Drew Hocevar.

The whole thing winds up late in the evening at the C&Y Chinese Restaurant, the restaurant used for the Christmas dinner scenes.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Get Your Kicks on Route 666

We were traveling back from the 4 Corners, the area this blog is named after, to I-70 to make our way back to Frisco, Colorado.

We traveled a most unique stretch of geography through southeastern Utah. Along this route, there were areas of unbelieveable beauty. And there were areas of unbelieveable isolation. Literally, you could look in a full 360 degree view and see nothing but rock, dirt and maybe a mountain in the far distance. No buildings, electric lines, fences or cars. Nothing.

It was like being in an episode of the Twilight Zone.

As we approached an intersection in downtown Monticello and saw this sign.

The three digits, 666, immediately caught my eye.

Seeing a highway designated 666 is nothing unusual for me. In Ohio, in the east central part of the state, Ohio 666 stretches between Zanesville to near Dresden. I've traveled this highway a couple of times and make it a point to show guests if we are traveling out that way. Depending on how they view religion, they either are spooked or laugh it off.

But I wasn't aware that a US Route 666 existed. And, well........., it doesn't. At least now.

When I saw the sign with the designation "Old" 666, I thought that this was an old stretch that was replaced by a new and improved highway that made an alternate route. I wasn't aware that there was an active desire to have the highway recristened. As anything. Highway 491 was finally accepted as its designation.

From Wikipedia, U.S. Route 491 is a north-south United States Highway. One of the newest additions to the U.S. Highway system, it was commissioned in 2003 as a renumbering of U.S. Route 666.

With the 666 designation, this route was given the nickname "The Devil's Highway" because of the common (but not total) Christian belief that 666 is the number associated with the Mark of the Beast.

Because of the highway's number, accidents and other phenomena became repeated as legend. These legends convinced some people the highway was cursed.

The change from US Route 666 began in 1993 in Arizonia, reportedly because the signs were a prized possession for vandals.

The route in the other 3 states became U.S. Route 491 in 2003, mainly through efforts of New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. He requested the change due to the "infamy brought by the inopportune naming of the road".

Even after the renaming of the road, many business preferred to keep cashing in on the fame and used the term "Devils Highway" to describe their location and address.

I'm not sure what to make of the need to change the highways designation. Sure, sign vandalism probably had a lot to do with it. But I wonder if those who are superstitious about the meaning of those three digits had anything to do with the change.

Who is more close to handling this correctly? Those who brush it off or those who will do anything to keep those three numbers from being seen?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Got Faith?

Returning from the Marblehead Lighthouse yesterday, we passed a sign near Fremont, Ohio on Ohio Route 53.

I immediately saw the words "got faith?" No biggie. I'm used to seeing signs, especially in this post 9/11 era with a message of faith.

But it was with a second glance that I saw the spigot with the water turning into wine as it flowed into the goblet.

What a unique visual play to present a scripture found in the bible. (John Chapter 2).

It took a moment to sink in what the billboard message was trying to teach and reach as thousands of drivers passed and catch a glimpse of it.

But it did make me think. Even more so than the many times I have seen the sleek blond in the black dress used so often in the alcohol ads seen on billboards across the nation. Sure, she's downright beautiful, but for the life of me, I can't remember the brand or type of alcohol she's advertising. But etched in my mind will forever be the old fashioned spigot, the trail of water and the splash of wine as it entered the glass.

I'm not sure whether this type of advertising is effective. Here's why. While I will distinctly remember the visual, I saw it as more unique rather than a message to change my spritual life.

Did it make me want to suddenly renew or improve my relationship with Christ? No.

Does it impact others who may be seeking a solution to an emptiness in their life. Possibly. No one but they know what's in their hearts and minds. No one can know what needs or position in life they may be in when they pass the billboard.

I can say it made me think more about what the message was trying to convey and the effectiveness of the technique rather than the status and depth of my faith.

And maybe it wasn't designed as much of a direct response message or a call to action message as much as it was designed to plant a seed. A memory in the back of your mind that will be recalled when you need it.

A search of the web found that Holy Cross Family Ministries of North Easton, Mass. is the organization behind the billboard messages.

The Old Man and the Lighthouse

Ernest Hemmingway wrote the book "The Old Man and the Sea" in the early 50's. To steal a title, I have maybe become the Old Man and the Lighthouse.

I'm not old in a traditional sense. I'm just shy of turning 52. Ok, for some, it's ancient. But for me, it seems life has just inched past the starting point. My only concern is I've realized there are fewer tomorrows than there are yesterdays.
Sometimes that's troubling. There is so much to see, do, enjoy, achieve, share and teach.

A few years ago, I journeyed to the Mablehead Lighthouse on the MarbleheadPennisula. The purpose of the trip was to view a lighthouse for no other particular reason than it was there. Something to do on a Sunday afternoon. A way to kill time and see my backyard.

The outcome of that original trip was quite different.
Over the past couple of years, I have made 4 or 5 journeys a year to the lighthouse. The need to go there is difficult to explain, and yet must be so simple. And yes, it is a need. There comes a time when it literally "calls" to my soul.

Not only is the view beautiful, the environment serene but the ability to simply release all of your tensions is unbelievable.

I have a hard time explaining why the trips are so therapeutic. Someone once said the sound of water lapping against the shore reminds us of our time in the womb where everything was safe, secure and provided. Maybe.

But for as much as the sounds of the gentle washing ashore of the water is the view. At certain vantage points, the water extends into the horizon. Maybe the hope of something beyond the horizon is also part of the equation. Maybe it's saying there is much more to ones journey to come. It could be saying that ones destiny has not been determined. It all depends on what direction you look.

The shoreline at Marblehead is also very much like a New England coastline. Instead of sand or mud, the shoreline is rock. Flat in many places, yet cut from years of water pounding against it in storm and the freeze and thaw cycle of Ohio winters. There are many flat surfaces, perfect for placing a favorite folding chair or chase lounger. The freeze and thaw process has also created natural places to sit and watch the water or those having fun boating or on wave runners. The freeze and thaw process also created "steps" from the lighthouse area to the water.

It's a great place to take a favorite book to read. I've read and meditated on Dave Ramsey's "More than Enough", the latest Grisham book or as I did with the trip yesterday paging through the novel by David Baldacci "The Camel Club". It's a great place to allow the words on the written page to expand and challenge your thoughts and imagination. You can place yourself in the mental pictures created by the written word. Or set the goals necessary when reading a how to manual.

There's plenty of shade. Unlike the beaches along the east coast, the trees are growing less than 10 feet from the water. You can get upclose and personal with the sights and scenery without risking torture from longterm exposure to the sun.

For better or worse, and in my case better, it's largely an overlooked Ohio treasure. Peace an quiet can usually be found. Although people from all backgrounds and walks of life do come and enjoy the same beauty I do, I have never met anyone who showed disrespect to another visitor or to the scenery itself.

And of course the views and the sounds are difficult to replicate. It's so relaxing while at the same time exhausting. It literally detoxes ones mind and spirits as you allow all of what's troubling about life come out and be swept away.

Maybe I have become the old man and his lighthouse.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Caroling in July

Jingle Bells in the middle of July?

Go ahead......ask. Am I crazy?

No not really. In less than six months, children across the more developed nations will be waking up and rushing to the Christmas tree to open a bounty of gifts from St. Nick and others.Very soon after the back to school sales, the pressure will begin to mount to find the "gotta have" toy, doll or electronic gadget. Sometimes the key is determining what will be hot and what won't. Sometimes it's a moving target.

But with all the pressure, and yes, even sometimes fun of collecting the bounty, the fact remains that the holiday season creates more problems than the moment of joy it brings. Why? Because soon after, the credit card bills begin to arrive in the mail. Suddenly that New Years resolution to get the finances back on track begins to derail.

The problem most people have is that Christmas sneaks up on them. Dave Ramsey points out that most people have the realization at the Thanksgiving table. Probably just about the time there is the need for the Tums. They head of to the medicine cabinet and about halfway there, they palm their forehead with the realization that Santa was in Macy's parade earlier that day to usher in officially the holiday season. Black Friday is less than 24 hours away.

Many also simply fail to understand, that unlike Easter with a moving target, Christmas is December 25th every year. Has been since I was a child and for many years before that.

Here are some ideas that may put less stress on you individually as well as financially after the first of the year.

First, set a realistic spending plan. I like that better than budget. I sat in my departments budget meeting the other day. I hated it. Not only did it cut into my already busy day, but it was about constraint, not how to really allocate the monies we had for year and a forecast for next year. A spending plan seems to be more flexible. Maybe it's mind over matter, but hey it works for me.

The spending plan needs to realistically look at how much you would like to spend and how much is being practical without being a scrooge.

Set an amount to spend. Now, from that amount divide it by 5. That's the amount you will need to save monthly to have a paid for Christmas. It the amount is larger than what you can save, then trim it until you can. It will be tough at first. But once you start and get in the habit, it becomes easier and easier.

Now create a list of items that need to be purchased and for who? Make a T chart. Mark one side of the T needs and the other wants. Put the persons name you plan to give the gift to next to the item.

I really like T charts because they allow you to organize and see your thoughts outside of the confines of your mind. They are on paper and no longer just bouncing around in your mind. I compare it to an old saying a boss of mine once had. He said, and he was a sexist, that most women have snakes in their heads. In reality it applies to most people whether they are male or female.

Imagine if you would, a skull full of slithering, slimy snakes coursing their way through your head. Those are thoughts. Is it any wonder we never get control of our thoughts? How in the world are we to separate that slimy, slithering tangled mess and deal with it?

Heck, I don't even want to think about it. See what I mean about thoughts. The best way I know of to not stick our mental hands in our skulls and try to clean up the mess is to make a T chart and write it down.

Now's the time to find some approximate prices for the items you marked down and tally it up. Sometimes we know from shopping. Other times it's best to just check the prices on the web. But remember; don't press the "add to basket" button. That too will get you in trouble.

How close is the tallied amount to your spending plan amount?

If you're like most people, you just found that you’re planning to spend more than you just planned to spend. And if you're like most people, you've given up at this point. I'm trusting you're not like most people. If you're reading this, you have something that most people don't have. A common persons desire to start getting ahead.Now look at your T chart once again. You've already categorized needs and wants on your chart. Cherry pick through the wants side of the list and scratch some things that can wait, aren't really necessary or may upon second visit really look foolish to begin with.

That process probably didn't get you to the financial number you need, but you are closer. And with getting closer, you're already beginning to win. Take a moment and congratulate yourself.

Now, back to the list. Review the list once again and get creative. There are certain people you can't scratch from the list. But maybe you could group them in as a family or some other common unit. That could reduce 2 or more gifts to one. Is there a gift or group of gifts you could get other friends or family members to go in on with you? If so, again, you've just stretched your budget.

How about a gift of love. My church calls them random acts of kindness gifts. An idea would be to give a homemade gift certificate or coupon book with low or no cost things you could do with a loved one. Maybe a grandparent or aunt would really like a day out or some help around the house rather than some additional trinket to add to their collection. Something where your time or talent is more important to them both emotionally and from a gift perspective than a store purchased gift.

For nieces and nephews, maybe a day at the matinee or a camping trip to a nearby campground. I'm not overly creative with ideas, but hopefully these ideas created a catalyst of ideas for you.

One important step here. Get buy in from your spouse on these ideas. Without you working as a team, this simply isn't going to work. You must let your spouse or other significant person in your life know how important this is without becoming a nag or worse. You must convey to them how important this is to you without coming off as a crackpot or a scrooge.

Buy in from both spouses is critical because now it's easier to work your plan as a family unit.

Now to your children. This is where I could really touch the third rail. My first wife and I only had one child. One year while Christmas shopping, we were in the mega toy store. I always like to wander through the store and just re-invent myself as a kid and marvel at all the neat toys. When I caught up with her, she had two basket carts overflowing with toys. My first question after regaining mental acuity was why so much? Her reply was "that's what he wanted". The look of hurt was deep in her face. She not only believed that she needed to purchase these and likely many more gifts as the day approached, but now she disappointed me. And looking back, I probably wasn't very diplomatic. That's for another time.

Understand I loved my child too. But the sight of two shopping carts filled with toys floored me.

Also, I've always long held that most children are overwhelmed at Christmas with toys and other items. Think for a moment; they usually only really play with one or two items and the rest end up in the toy box or somewhere in a recessed corner in the basement? They are so overwhelmed they really don't appreciate the act that went into getting the gift. The gifts become long forgotten until the next garage or yard sale.

Make a pledge to cut back and buy gifts that will meaningful to your children. Save some for special gifts later in the year. Allow them to achieve something nice as a reward for hard work.

Seriously, don't treat your family like it's the depression. But realize most of us don't have the last name of Rockefeller either. Starting today and with this holiday season, it really time that we need to act our wage.

Now go back to the T chart and cut some more with your newly acquired insight.

Now your list and the dollars associated with it should look a little more like the spending plan you created earlier. The one where if you start saving now, you likely will have a paid in full Christmas with cash.

Now for some reason I have the urge to start hanging the decorations and go caroling tonight!

Oh the weather outside is frightful, the humidity is no longer delightful. My deoderant gave out long ago. I'm caroling with no snow, with no snow.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Interesting new personal web page site has openned. seems to be the new place to MySpace or YouTube.

The site is currently in beta, but is live, active and taking new accounts.

The neat thing about Yuwie is that is allows you to generate referals to generate traffic. What does that mean to me and you? You can get paid based upon the traffic your site gets from people visiting you.

If you're prolific or have the ability to write, have unique or desired content, this is your chance to get paid for your fun time on the web.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Diana's Home !

It was so great to have her back home again. While it was nice to do things on "Chris time" while she was visiting family in Atlanta, I really couldn't wait to have her get back home.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

The World of Radio

I was thinking the other day of the things that made an impression on my life. One thing I can point to was my portable radio. I loved listening to it.

In the summer, I worked for a country club and would often walk home after an evening of work. My radio would keep me company as I walked the miles through the country to home.

I would listen to the out of state signals. I remember most especially WCFL from Chicago. While I was never really into to top 40 music, even as a young man, WCFL captivated me. There was Big Ron O'Brien and a man who had a funny voice. I believe that was Barney Pipp. I can still remember their top of the hour ID, listening to the voice of labor. And weather was always concluded with the temperature downtown at Marina City it's X degrees at WCFL. The Voice of Labor was larger than life and living in small town Jerome, Ohio, it seemed Chicago was a land where the big life was.

But the station that became a goal for me to work at was much closer to me than WCFL and Chicago. The station was WTVN. None of the other Columbus stations came in well at night in the area where I lived, so WTVN was like the 50,000 watt stations to me. Little did I know that in certain parts of the area, WTVN also had signal short comings. But in my world, the Full Service Giant was that.....a giant. It's signal boomed into my neck of the woods.

My first recollection of the line up had John Fraim doing mornings, Dave Logan middays, Bob Conners afternoon, Dave Parr evenings (and possibly Jim Lohse before him, I just can't remember), then Pat Lucas at 10 and Jack Stewart the grave yard shift. Weekends featured some guys that are long forgotten with the exception of Gene Warman (the world's greatest trumpet player) and Saturday overnight guy Ed Eppley.

As announcers in the lesser dayparts came and left a new voice was hired that captivated me. I don't remember where he came from. His name was Bill Smith.

Bill sparked something that no one else could ever spark. Bill sounded cool. Bill was hip, but not so hip as to drive away his mostly adult audience.

His voice was so friendly. WTVN imaged itself with a jingle package called "Friends" and Bill oozed it. As time went by, Bill was promoted into the spot held by Dave Parr. Parr had been upped to afternoon drive host when Bob Conners made his ill fated move to crosstown WBNS. Bill Smith was now my evening friend on WTVN.

When I got old enough to drive, I would head to Columbus and Bill would let me in the studios on the 16th floor of the Buckeye Building to spin records. For me, it was nirvana. Here I was in my favorite radio station with a guy who spoke to my soul.

I so wanted to become the next Bill Smith.

Bill left not too long after he got his evening gig for Boston and a weekend gig at WBZ. In my world, radio was never the same. I sometimes got to hear him when WBZ blew into this part of the world in the evenings or overnights when he was filling in. The last time I heard him was in 1976 or so. I think he was filling in for Robin Young on the overnight show and I was listening having just finishing an airshift at WBBY.

I envied his opportunity, felt proud that I had known a radio winner, but inside I never forgave that he left my world. As time moved on, Bill left WBZ and went to work for stations in the Boston market that didn't hit skip into the clutches of my radio dial.

The last I heard, he was working in production at WRKO in Boston.

Boston is a better radio market with Bill Smith there. And 30+ years later, I still remember the joy he brought to my ears and still wish was available to me.

It's Been 10+ Years, But It Was Fun

It's probably been at least 10 years since I've gone bowling.

I met up with my son and daughter in law last night. We had dinner and went to the local bowling alley and rolled 4 games. We were fortunate that they had passes that paid for all the games. (Diana is visiting family near Atlanta this weekend.) I guess my FPU class did have some impact with them!

I've never been a good bowler. Matter of fact, athletic pursuits just aren't don't play to my natural abilities. I can't think of a single sport that I've ever been able to master. Golf? I play Star Trek golf. I go where no mans gone before. Baseball? I'm ok at slow pitch, but anything with any speed is nothing but a blur. And I've never quite understood the rules for advancing bases when I'm not the batter. Really doesn't matter, I'm also a slow mover. Basketball? Let' s not go there. After so many years of trying to be good, I just sort of gave up and avoided having to participate in sporting events.

I even tried to learn to square dance a few years ago, figuring I could learn something like that and transpose it to other body movement, but I just exasperated the teachers. I could imagine me on Dancing with the Stars. Tucker Carlson would be considered graceful compared to me.

But I got something of a surprise last night as the evening progressed. My game improved.

I have terrible form. My friends joked in years past that I bowled like I have polio. And it's true. But after a poor first game of 66, I found something, that despite my form, worked for me. The second game I rolled a 112. The third game was a 120 something. And my last game I rolled a 141. I was even beginning to replicate moves. For me, that was a major accomplishment. And if I recall, 141 is a personal high game for me. If it isn't, it's darn close.

It sort of renewed my confidence. Maybe there is hope for me. I'll never be on ABC's Wide World of Sports (do they still have the bowling tournaments?) but for once I had fun doing something athletic.