Sunday, October 21, 2007

Hey Gordo!

This week Diana and I traveled to Circleville, Ohio to take in the sights and sounds of the Circleville Pumpkin Show. This was the 100th show and all the stops were pulled out.

We parked in Ted Lewis park. Ted Lewis? One of the better know burlesque and vaudeville entertainers, he was known in later years for his smaltzy performances featuring his tattered top hat and tag line "Is Everybody Happy"? Oh, he was also born in Circleville.

We headed down Court Street and found ourselves in the midst of a giant carnival. Food, amusement rides and games of skill and chance. Oh and the previously mentioned food. If it can be made from pumpkin, it was available. Pumpkin Bread, Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Burgers, Pumpkin Donuts and Pumpkin Coffee. Ok, I took liberty with the last one, but it wouldn't surprise me if it weren't availalble.

This years largest pumpkin was the largest and heaviest in the history of the show. It weighed in at 1524 lbs. The competion is great to grow the largerst gourd and locals as well as regional contestants take the challenge to grow the largest very seriously.

Others are on display, in many unique shapes and colors.

In Circlevile, the Pumpkin Show is a very "political" event. Political in that you have to be seen at certain events if you travel in certain circles.

I also got to see a person I've always really liked. Cindy Wood worked at the same company I did for a number of years. She worked for me in my department for about 7 or 8 years. Cindy is a native and fixture in Circleville and it was great to see her.

Our trip wouldn't have been complete without stopping at the legendary Lindsey's Bakery to see the large pumpkin pie and buy a dozen warm pumpkin donuts. Take about pumpkin excellence.

Lindey's is not only a must stop for Diana and me. On the walls are pictures of high ranking politicians including 1996 Presidential Candidate Bob Dole and in 2004 Vice President Dick Cheney. There's also a picture of former astronaut and Ohio Senator John Glenn.

It takes several weeks for the bakers at Lindsey's Bakery to prepare this masterpiece. The pie weighs 350 pound and is 5 feet in diameter. In case you might want to duplicate this phenomena you'll need 33 pounds of pie dough, 12 gallons of cooked and mashed pumpkin, 36 pounds of sugar, 11 dozen eggs, 4 pounds of cornstarch, a pound of salt, a pound of pie spices (including the all-essential cinnamon) and 116 pounds of milk and water. When you find an oven big enough to bake the pie, it will take six hours to bake and an additional six hours to cool before serving.

The show wrapped up last night and will be gone for another year. Well at least we can still go to Lindey's to get the donuts.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Things That Make You Go HMMMM.

I attended the Dave Ramsey Business Coach and Wealth Coach events in Cincinnati last month. During the break between the two events, I decided to take a walk to the suspension bridge that spans the Ohio River between Ohio and Kentucky. The bridge was designed by John A. Roebling, the designer of the Brooklyn bridge. Many say the Cincinnati span was the template for the later constructed and more famous Brooklyn Bridge. The Cincy bridge is a neat piece of history.

As I was walking down the street from the Duke Energy Center to the river, I passed an interesting shop.

The nemisis of Cincinnati, Larry Flint has a Hustler store in downtown Cincy. But it wasn't the adult store that caught my eye.

Well ok. I did see the Hustler sign first.

What did peak my curiosity was the plaque on the building, located just to the left of the bottom left corner of the window. It seems Larry's place is considered a historical site.

Now I wonder if the building's historic designation has anything to do with the current occupant or for some other previous historic reason?

And for those who are wondering the ultimate question, no I didn't go in the store. But I can say the window was loaded with..........

A lot of Cincinnati Bengals merchandise.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Look of Commerce.....How Times Change

During our trip through southern Central Ohio, we traveled through the village of Lockville in western Fairfield County. Lockville is one of the few places with three locks that were used on the Ohio-Erie canal.

The locks were used to raise and lower barges as they made their way either from Lake Erie to the Ohio River or from the river to the lake.

Ohio's 1000-mile network of navigable canals, were constructed between 1825 and 1847, and provided a system of economical transportation where none had previously existed. The canals opened what was an isolated wildness into an era of commerce and even new riches and wealth. It was easier, quicker and more economical to pull the cargo via horse drawn barges via water rather than try to cover the trip via land. The canals were an important mode of transportation until the trains began arriving about the time of the Civil War. After the war, much of the canal land was operated by private individuals and coporations who sold water for irrigation and manufacturing uses. There were two problems. First, canal traffic continued to dwindle and the private care takers allowed the canals to generally fall into ruin. By 1913, all of the canal had been abandoned for commercial use.

One additional treat at the park was the covered bridge. The Hartman II Bridge is built in Queenpost style in 1888 with a span of 50 feet. It once spanned Raccoon Creek on Wheeling Road in Fairfield County, Ohio. In 1967 the covered bridge was reconstructed across the canal within the Lockville Park, Lockville, OH. Rare triple locks can be seen at the park maintained by The Fairfield County Historical Parks Commission.

Some like Almond Joy. I Prefer Mounds

Saturday was an easy going day. Diana and I left her grandsons birthday party and traveled south through the western edge of Fairfield County. We stopped for a break in Lockport (more on that in a later blog) and then worked our way toward Tar Hollow State Park (you'll learn more about that later too!)

Toward the close of the day, we worked our way back toward the major highways leading back to Columbus. That journey took us to Chillocothe, the home of the Mound City Group.

The placard leading to the park shows the layout of the mounds. 23 Mounds remain after various excavations, surrounded by a ring mound.

The photo to the left shows a portion of the outer ring surrounding a couple of the inner mounds.

The Mounds are believed to the burial and ceremonial grounds of the Hopewell Indians. The Indians lived in what is now Ohio between 200 BC and 400 AD. Numerous artifacts and ash have been excavated from the mounds. One mound held many smoking pipes. Almost all were carved into very intricate shapes and forms.

While not as famous as the Serpent Mound in Ohio, which was believed to be built by the Adena Indians, this area is still in a beautiful setting.

Ohio has a number of mounds including at least one in the city of Columbus.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Final Call for This Year

It was probably the final call to go to the lake for the year. I've written before that Marblehead Lighthouse on Lake Erie is probably one of my favorite spots. We take bag chairs and set them out in the shade, take books, water and just relax. The water is beautiful, you can watch the boats and wave runners, the scenery is just outstanding and the place is totally serene.

The only downside to the trip is from mid summer to the first frost of the year, the flies that feed on the tiny animal life love to munch on humans. Because of our warmer than normal fall, they were out in full force today as the first frost has not happened. Nothing a little OFF can't take care of, but it is a chemical product that I would rather not use. We went about this time last year and the hungry files were no where to be found.

Unfortunately, the last two pictures turned out a little darker than I wanted. But the bottom one is the scene from my chair at the lake looking between the trees.

I've also attached a video taken with my digital camera. Still need to practice on getting it to come out properly. But, what the hey. If you don't do it, you'll never learn it.

Today we listened to an old tape of a Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup for the Soul guy) on the way up and back. I need to listen to the tape a few more times. Jack, in this tape, touches a nerve with me. I need to listen to it with a pad in hand to jot thoughts and notes.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Farewell Lisa Moore

For many years I've been reading two comic strips. Tom Batuik's Funky Winkerbean Comic Strip and Lynn Johnston's For Better or Worse. I honestly don't remember when I started, but these two comics have been one of my "no matter whats" for daily life.

Other comics will be read if time permits. But for Funky Winkerbean and For Better or Worse, time is always made to read and enjoy the strips.

Both strips deal with daily life, including the celebrations and the times when lifes outcomes just are sometimes sad or even cruel.

Yesterday, Batuik's comic portrayed the end of life for Lisa Moore.

Lisa was a tragic character. During high school she wore large glasses and was very unattractive. She was seduced and then left abandoned by a high school football player, only later to find she was pregnant from the encounter. She was befriended by a nerd friend, Les Moore, who assisted her during her pregnancy and delivery. Lisa gave the child up for adoption. The child was adopted by high school principal Fred Fairgood and his wife. Les and Lisa later married and lived above Montoni's Pizza shop.

Lisa was an advocate. She became a lawyer. But the tragic aspect of her character remained with Lisa. In the late 90's, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Heady stuff for the comic pages, yet done in a very touching manner. Lisa and Les battled the disease with grace and grit through surgery and chemotherapy.

Earlier this year, Lisa discoverd the cancer had returned only in a more aggressive manner. She decided against another round of Chemo.

The comic strip showed Lisa winding up her life. As her health declined, Les would shuttle Lisa in a wheelchair. They enjoyed a trip to the park to enjoy the leaves one final time.

Finally, as the end neared, Lisa was no longer could handle moving around and became bedfast.

On Wednesday, Lisa died.
It's funny that for the past few days, I've almost mourned the loss of this character from the funnies. Even though I saw it coming for the past few months, on the way to work as I was scanning the paper, I said aloud without thinking "Lisa died".

My wife Diana said, "Who's Lisa?"

I explained, Lisa Moore, in the comic Funky Winkerbean. I explained the story line. Diana could tell that the character was more than just a sketch on the comic pages and that Lisa and the cast of characters in her life had found a place in mine.

Batiuk handled the loss of Lisa with dignity. Lisa's final story line was touching, yet not overly sappy. While it portrayed a lady who was clearly declining and ultimately dying, it was done in a dignified manner.

Goodbye Lisa Moore. Thank you for the many years of sharing your life with me. You were a fine lady. The world could use more people like you. May you rest in peace.

Naked Cowboy

A couple of years ago, Diana and I spent Memorial Day Weekend in New York City. It was a wonderful getaway for us and we had a great time. We toured the city, and saw a number of the sites so widely known about the Big Apple. Times Square, Central Park, Grand Central Station, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and more. It was a fun weekend and other than the crowd of people who had the same idea, we had a wonderful time.

One of the more colorful people we saw that weekend was the Naked Cowboy.

From Wikipedia: Robert John Burck (born December 23, 1970 in Cincinnati, Ohio), better known as the Naked Cowboy, is a New York City busker and prominent fixture of Times Square. His routine consists of playing guitar wearing only cowboy boots, a hat, and a pair of briefs.

I never realized I traveled several hundred miles to see a guy from my home state.

Certainly a unique act, at least I got to see him in person.....maybe a little too much.

With Studios Downtown in The Buckeye Federal Building

Growing up, one of the icons of my youth was WTVN 610 radio. I've mentioned this in previous notes.

WTVN was located on the 16th floor of the Buckeye Federal building in downtown Columbus, Ohio. As a teen in the late 60's and early 70's, I would frequently drive to the "big city" and hop the elevator to ride up to the studios for a tour. To me, it was fascinating to watch Dave Logan, Bob Conners and Bill Smith at work spinning records (yes they did that then), voicing commercials and other associated DJ work. Each and everyone of these gentlemen were heros to me.

The title of this piece refers to a bottom of the hour trade id voiced by one time program director Jim Lohse. His soothing baritone voice would do the 9 second voicer...."This is the friendly giant, WTVN Radio, studios downtown in the Buckeye Federal Building, 42 East Gay Street, Columbus, Ohio". And the ABC Entertainment network news sounder would begin to roll with the latest national news.

I was out for a walk downtown the other day and walked by the Buckeye Building. Buckeye Federal as a savings and loan long ago folded during the savings and loan crisis and scandals in the 80's and 90's. And while the building housed the S&L, it was also a general office building, housing law firms and other business entities. I noticed the building was getting a makeover. From what window vantage points I could see, it appeared it was a total internal renovation.

The walk brought back some great and not so great memories. That childhood dream of working at WTVN did become a reality for about 2 years. I was fortunate enough to work there. Yet once there, I was unhappy. Part of it was that I was young and naive. I didn't understand the realities of what was expected of me. The other
was I was in reality nothing more than a step and fetch it. The announcer part of it was nothing more than finding someone halfway decent to host the overnight show. But that's all you were. Someone to plug and play in the host chair.

While never articulated, it was an expectation that the undesireable tasks of the hosts were your responsibility. Production left undone. You finished it. Remote that didn't pay a talent fee. My responsibility. Other misc unpaid work. It was mine to do.

When I started to push back, things began to fall apart. Suddenly, I wasn't willing to "grow" with the company. Pay raises were something not mentioned. In fact, they were taboo.

In the end, I was let go. I was crushed. My dreams of a radio career, while not totally snuffed out, in reality it died. Like a fresh corpse, my career would jerk and lurch toward opportunites. But in reality, they were DOA.

WTVN left the Buckeye Building sometime in the 80's and relocated on Dublin Road. Due to radios ongoing consolidation, they outgrew that facility and have since relocated to a building on 5th Avenue overlooking an old quarry.

The Buckeye Building will be enjoying a makeover. In many ways I have been enjoying one too.