(by Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor - November 07, 2012)
Of pundits and dark horses (Nov. 7, 2012)
In the wee hours of the morning of Nov. 7, I was bleary-eyed and in the haze of a bout of insomnia. It was one of those episodes of insomnia were I wasn't really sure whether I was awake or not.
This happens to me from time to time. It gives life a shadowy, dream-like quality that can be somewhat entertaining, especially when the middle-of-the-night darkened house is illuminated by the cathode ray light of a boxy old television.
But not this time because, while in this mental fog, I heard the dreaded words of a pundit pour out from my ancient television: "So, who do you think are the front runners for the 2016 nomination?"
The bones of the 2012 presidential race were barely picked over and the television talking heads were raring to move on to the next candidate horse race. The panel of pondering pundits began tossing out names. Some were familiar and, as the TV pundits rattled off their lists, it reminded me of the quote, "Round up the usual suspects!" from the film, "Casablanca." Other names they tossed out were people I'd never heard of before and the TV pundits were quick to label these wanna-bes as "dark horses."
In my fuzzy, tired state and desperate for a distraction from punditry, the term "dark horse" suddenly seemed amusing. I like old slang terms, especially ones from the 19th century or from the 1930s, so I looked up dark horse in my trusty slang dictionary. It means "a little known entrant in a horse race or other contest."
All the while I was nosing through the slang dictionary the TV pundits kept nattering away.
It was then that I did what I should have done long ago. I turned off the TV.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Nov. 7, 2012
Groveport's other canal bridge (Nov. 1, 2012)
The covered bridge that spanned the Ohio and Erie Canal in Groveport in the 19th century tends to get historical attention because of its Main Street location as well as its picturesque quality. While this bridge is enshrined in the city logo, there was another canal bridge in Groveport that many do not know about.
This second canal bridge sat at the south end of College Street. It connected College Street, then known as East Street, to the canal towpath on the south side of the canal near the Groveport Cemetery. The bridge was located at what is now the intersection of Wirt Road and College Street.
I have not been able to determine when a bridge was originally constructed over the canal on College Street, but the bridge does appear on a county map from 1871. Most likely there was a plain, wooden bridge earlier at this site.
However, in 1883 a fixed iron bridge was put in place over the canal at the south end of College Street. This iron bridge was brought over from Canal Winchester where it had originally spanned the canal on High Street since 1870 when it had replaced a covered bridge that collapsed into the canal in 1869. In 1883, Canal Winchester obtained a new, iron turn bridge for High Street, which made their old fixed iron bridge available for Groveport's use.
College Street was probably not heavily traveled in the 19th century, so the bridge there would most likely have been used primarily by funeral processions heading to the Groveport Cemetery as well as for business purposes by the nearby brick yard.
One can imagine a solemn group of 19th century, black clothed mourners walking across the College Street bridge following a horse drawn hearse that carried the remains of a loved one to the Groveport Cemetery; or maybe even pall bearers on foot shouldering a coffin across the bridge. The only sound of these processions being that of footsteps on the bridge deck.
Brick yard workers could have used the bridge to carry clay from digs on land from the south side of the canal to the big brick kilns located on the north bank.
The bridge on College Street, like the Main Street canal iron turn bridge (which had replaced the old covered bridge in 1887) both came down in 1911 when the canal era ended and the water was drained from the channel.
Part of the old canal channel in Groveport along what is now Wirt Road became a dump as trash and debris (including rumors of a worn out Ford Model-T automobile being buried somewhere in the old canal) filled the channel that once was a watery highway.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Nov. 1, 2012
Where was the Groveport covered bridge? (Oct. 23, 2012)
A common question people ask me when I'm in my other role as director of the Groveport Heritage Museum is, "Where was the Groveport covered bridge?"
An image of the covered bridge appears in the city of Groveport's logo, along with the famous horse, "Cruiser," and the log house. Cruiser, the school mascot, and the log house, located in Heritage Park, are familiar images and their stories are fairly well known in the area, but what of the covered bridge?
The covered bridge once spanned the Ohio and Erie Canal on Groveport's Main Street in the 19th century. Built in 1847, this bridge replaced an earlier wooden bridge over the canal. The covered bridge sat high on stone abutments to allow for the passage of canal boats beneath it. Historian George Bareis noted the Groveport covered bridge stood exactly 214 miles on the canal route from Cleveland.
The covered bridge was used until 1887 when it was replaced by an iron turn bridge. The iron turn bridge sat a little lower than the covered bridge. A man would hand crank the bridge to move it out of the way to let canal boats float past.
The site where the covered bridge once stood is today the intersection of Main Street and Wirt Road. The route of the canal roughly parallels Wirt Road. If one stands on the north side of Main Street and looks northeast from the intersection of Main Street and Wirt Road, the remnants of the old canal channel can still be seen.
The covered bridge existed for 40 years and the canal for around 80 years in Groveport's history. The bridge, and the canal it spanned, played significant roles in the commercial and social development of Groveport and the memories of both are reflected in the modern community that grew from the canal's banks.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Oct. 23, 2012
The Halloween parade (Oct. 3, 2012)
A long standing tradition at Groveport Elementary School is the annual Halloween parade.
The parade, which has been held for decades, is held in the afternoon during a school day on or around Halloween each year. The kids wear their Halloween costumes and walk, by classroom, on the short parade route, which is Main Street to Walnut Street to Elm Street to Front Street and back to the school.
It is a simple parade consisting of costumed kids and their teachers. It's a nice parade route because it has the high visibility of being on Main Street and then the comfortable feeling of passing through old neighborhoods along streets lined with trees that are golden in their fall splendor.
I walked in this parade each year from kindergarten to sixth grade when I was a kid attending Groveport Elementary. Back then, most of the scattered spectators around the streets on the parade route were our moms, some retired folks and a few of the local business people who came out of their stores to smile at us while we passed by. I think it's still that way today.
We kids loved this parade and I'm sure today's kids do, too. It felt cool to show off our Halloween outfits. The parade made us feel special and unique.
It was also fun to be able to walk along down the middle of the street. When you're a kid, you're always told by adults to, "Stay out of the street!" This parade enabled us to stride along on the forbidden pavement of the street like we owned it, and for that short time we did.
The parade itself is unchanging. The only differences throughout these many years are the kids walking in it and the variety of costumes. Otherwise, when watching this parade today, it could be 1962, 1982 or 2012. There's a comfortable constancy to it.
Like I mentioned earlier, I walked in this parade during each of my elementary school years and my recollections of each year sort of run together. The thing that stands out in my memory though, and the thing that means the most to me, is that every year, when the parade made the turn at Walnut Street, I saw my mom smiling and waving to me from the corner as I walked by.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Oct. 3, 2012
Reconnecting with the land (Sept. 26, 2012)
On a recent morning as a I drove to work, three examples of nature's beauty appeared simultaneously in the sky. There were long, bright flashes of lightning set against black clouds in the western sky, a rainbow arching from south to north above me, and, on the eastern horizon behind me, rose a fat, pumpkin orange sun. Nature put on quite a show that morning.
These maginificent sights made me think of how we humans often ignore nature's offerings in favor of those from our man-made world. It brought to mind an interview with Joel Salatin (the self-described "Christian libertarian environmentalist capitalist lunatic farmer," which just about covers all bases of self-description) that was in the October issue of "The Sun" magazine. Salatin said, "In our culture today a profound number of people don't have a link to the land. We live in a fantasy world."
I always fancied myself as maintaining an awareness of nature. I enjoy tracking the phases of the moon. I note the changing angle of sunlight as seasons change. I like to absorb the sights and sounds of woods, meadows and cornfields when I bicycle. But I realize that I have just become an observer and that, beyond mowing the lawn and fooling around with a few black-eyed susans and orange cosmos flowers that took up residence in a scruffy patch by my house, I don't interact directly with the land much any more.
I used to. There was once a vegetable garden that my now ex-wife, and later an ex-girlfriend, and I used to tend to that took up about a third of my backyard. I usually did the grunt work of tilling and hoeing weeds, which provided much satisfaction as I watched the plants grow. But, it was these wonderful women I once knew who were the true gardeners. They nurtured the plants which produced a bounty of beans, green peppers, tomatoes, corn, carrots and pumpkins. I can still remember my ex-wife carefully and gently picking bugs off the plants to protect the leaves from being devoured by the hungry insects.
The powerful and beautiful natural sights I saw on that recent rainy morning drive made me want to reconnect with the land. I'll probably start off small next spring with a pumpkin patch to honor that rising pumpkin orange sun whose light filled the rear window of my car on that gray day.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Sept. 26, 2012
Comment from Shirley: Rick, I'm so happy you had a chance to reconnect with the land. It's so important to me, that's one reason our farm is now a part of the Metro Parks of Franklin County. My hope is that this land around us will remain the land it was meant to be a refuge for wildlife, and a green space for humans to enjoy for their lifetime on this earth. And planting a garden is the best thing you can do for yourself and your family. Ed and I still look forward to and plan for next summers garden each year. So thankful we are healthy enough to continue our lifetime interest. And you have many years ahead of you to plan a garden each year no matter what the size.
The old firehouse (Sept. 20, 2012)
It was a plain white building that once sat among the houses in a neighborhood on College Street in Groveport. When I was growing up in the 1960s, everyone called it "the firehouse."
The firehouse is gone now, replaced by new fire stations on Hamilton Road and Gender Road. Memories about the old firehouse stirred within me when I heard about the Madison Township Fire Department's plans to celebrate its 70 years of service to the community with an open house on Oct. 7, from 1-4 p.m. at fire station 182 located at 6600 Gender Road, Canal Winchester.
The first thing I recall about the old firehouse is that every day at noon the firefighters would sound the siren on the building's roof. You could hear it all over town. When I heard the siren during recess on school days, I knew that meant we kids had about 15 minutes left for our noon recess. During the summer the sound of the noon siren meant it was lunch time and kids would interrupt their goofing around and scatter to their homes for sandwiches.
When the siren sounded at other times of the day, we knew there was fire somewhere. I can remember hopping on my bike and pedaling over to College Street to watch the fire truck full of firemen roar down the street with its own siren blaring and lights flashing as it headed out on its run.
But my best memory of the old firehouse is that it was the place to go during trick-or-treat at Halloween. The firemen would hand out big doughnuts of all kinds. Sometimes they would dump a fistful of candy bars into kids' trick-or-treat bags.
As a kid, it didn't get any better than that.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Sept. 20, 2012
Pickleball (Sept. 12, 2012)
In 1965, a couple of guys in a backyard wanted to come up with a game the whole family could play. What they invented was pickleball.
The game got its name from the ball the two men used in the first game. It was a plastic ball that the family dog, Pickles, played with.
According to Groveport Parks and Recreation Director Kyle Lund, pickleball is played on a badminton court with the net lowered to 34 inches at the center. It is played with a plastic baseball (similar to a wiffle ball) and wood or composite paddles. The game can be played one-on-one or two-on-two.
Pickleball combines elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis.
I like the inspired nature of a game that a couple of guys just thought up using spare parts of various games they had laying around the backyard.
It reminds me of how a friend and I came up with our own game in his backyard years ago. Our game combined croquet and hockey. We set up makeshift goals at each end of his yard. We then brought out the croquet mallets and wooden croquet balls. The idea was to run around at full speed smacking a croquet ball with the mallets with the idea of hitting the ball into the goal. We played the game one-on-one and body checking, like in hockey, was allowed.
Needless to say this was chaotic mayhem as well as painful when flying croquet balls or mallets made contact with one's unpadded shinbones. But it was frantic fun.
Pickleball does not have the factors of chaos and pain, but it does sound fun and I might give it a try.
The Groveport Recreation Center, 7370 Groveport Road, plans to offer the game of pickleball. It is a game for all ages and abilities. Persons do not have to be Groveport Recreation Center pass holders to participate.
For information contact Lund at (614) 836-1000 ext. 223. To learn more about the sport visit www.usapa.org.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Sept. 12, 2012
Sounds of a small Ohio town, 1890 (Sept. 6, 2012)
Close your eyes and imagine it is an early afternoon, late summer Wednesday in a small Ohio town in 1890. No trucks, automobiles or motorcycles rolling by. No jet planes flying overhead. No electronic devices beeping. No radios and televisions blaring.
What would you hear?
You would hear the occasional clip-clop of hooves as a horse pulled a creaking wagon down a dirt street.
You would hear chickens clucking, cows mooing, sheep bleating and pigs snorting as many people in town kept animals in their yards.
You would hear the whoosh of water filling and draining a canal lock as it lifted and lowered one of the last boats to use the fading canal.
You would hear the tinkle of a bell as someone opened the door to a store.
You would hear a locomotive whistle and the rumble of boxcars on the rails as a train pulled into the railroad depot. These were most likely the loudest sounds of the day.
You would hear the sounds of men working at the grain elevator in the railyard as they shoveled grain and unloaded freight.
You would hear the voices of people as they walked down the street, worked in yards, businesses and homes, or visited with neighbors.
But most of all it would be quiet. It would be so quiet.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Sept. 6, 2012
Comment from Kay: Very nice Rick. Because. Even in the forties as I grew up in Southern Ohio - I heard only the twice daily train passing within sight of my home. Also within sight, the few cars who passed through on a road not used continually although it was a blacktopped road. We heard the school bus coming to pick us up and the postal delivery truck on its way to the nearest post office (in a grocery store a mile away). And then on Sunday we heard the dozen cars of the people who attended the one room church about a half mile away. The weekdays ended with us waiting at the end of the driveway to greet our father arriving home from work as a welder. We didn't have a car so he rode along with a co-worker both to and from his job. Thanks for a reminder of my quiet slow days growing up in the country!
Each note, each chord was ours (Aug. 28, 2012)
All too often rock n' roll bands lose their connection to their live audiences because they play in sterile, massive venues like cavernous concrete sports arenas or in the mammoth maws of football stadiums.
The sheer size of these venues detaches the bands from the audiences to the point the performers have to put up big video screens by the stage just so the concert goers can see the musicians at work.
Such places create a physical gulf between the listeners and the performers. There's no intimacy.
Rock n' roll is personal and emotional. It should be seen, heard, and felt up close. The musicians and the listeners must be able to connect with each other through a force of free flowing communal energy.
Last Saturday I experienced live rock n' roll music as it is meant to be at two different shows. In the afternoon I went to the Crest Fest in Clintonville and listened to the Planktones, a band made up of friends of mine who play covers of songs that are a bit out of the mainstream.
The "stage" at Crest Fest was merely a small tent set up directly on the grit of the street pavement on narrow Crestview Avenue. The band, tightly packed into this space, played with energy and skill all the while maintaining a sense of fun by interacting with the crowd that formed around them on the street.
Looking about, I could see that both the band and the people in the audience were smiling. In such a setting, the music, the band and the people in the audience are all part of the same whole. Each note, each chord was ours.
That evening I went to see Joan Jett and the Blackhearts at the Obetz Zucchinifest.
Jett performed her style of straight on, driving, catchy rock n' roll on a no frills stage set up on a scruffy baseball diamond in a city park.
The setting was intimate even with the large crowd in attendance. One could see Jett smiling at the audience as she played. It was clear she liked being there and was having fun and, in turn, that added to the enjoyment of the people listening. In between songs she talked to the crowd in an informal, happy fashion as if she was performing for friends in someone's backyard.
Standing in the crowd watching her, even though she is a big star with a string of hit songs to her credit, it felt like she was one of us. Everything felt so alive. Her music was our music. Her energy was our energy.
That's how it should be when you go to a rock n' roll show.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Aug. 28, 2012
The pawpaw tree (Aug. 13, 2012)
Messenger photo by Rick Palsgrove
Mark Froehlich proudly shows off some of the pawpaws growing from his pawpaw tree. He said it's the first time the tree, located in the backyard of his Groveport home, has produced fruit in more than 20 years.
"Pickin' up pawpaws, put 'em in your pockets,
Way down yonder in the pawpaw patch."
- from "The Pawpaw Patch," a traditional folk song.
Unlike the old folk song, Groveport's Mark Froehlich doesn't have to go "way down yonder" to get pawpaws, he just has to walk out to the backyard of his Main Street home.
"We moved here in 1993 and I noticed a pawpaw tree seedling growing as a volunteer near the old herb shed," said Froehlich. "Our family would take hikes at Chestnut Ridge Metro Park and I saw signs there that described pawpaw trees. That's when I figured out we had one growing in the backyard. You don't see too many pawpaw trees around in town any more so I knew it was something special."
Froehlich said he carefully nurtured the pawpaw tree for nearly 20 years hoping it would bear its tasty fruit. He trimmed the tree, weeded around it and kept a watchful eye on it. But, though the tree grew strong and tall, each growing season the tree remained barren of fruit.
Then, one day earlier this summer, Froehlich looked at the tree and there, growing from branches under the leaves, were clusters of pawpaws.
"After all these years, this is the first time the tree has borne pawpaws," Froehlich said with a smile.
When asked why he thought the tree finally bore fruit this year, Froehlich said he could not say for certain, but maybe the weather was just right or the tree was finally receptive to pollination.
The pawpaws growing from the tree are about 3 inches long right now and still green. Froehlich said the pawpaws should be ready to be picked by September.
"I want to see how big they'll get," said Froehlich.
Froehlich said he has never eaten a pawpaw and is looking forward to the harvest.
"I'll eat them naturally, as is," said Froehlich. "I want to get the full effect of eating a wild fruit."
He said in future years, if the tree continues to produce fruit, he will try some "fancier pawpaw recipes."
But until picking time, he will watch the pawpaws grow on the branches of the tree and appreciate their beauty.
"I love nature," said Froehlich. "Nature produces the best show."
What is a pawpaw?
•Pawpaw trees grow in the wild throughout Ohio and most of the eastern United States. They can reach a height of 25 feet and have large, tropical looking leaves.
•Pawpaw trees have a natural resistance to diseases and insects.
•Pawpaw fruit is the largest fruit native to North America. It is rich in anti-oxidants and other nutrients. It is usually harvested in September.
•Pawpaw fruit has been called the "American banana." Some compare its flavor to bananas and mangos with the texture of an avocado. Others feel it can taste like a pear with a hint of vanilla.
•Native Americans and early Ohio pioneers ate pawpaws for a tasty fruit treat before other fruit trees, like apples, were established in the state.
•Pawpaw fruit is used in fruit desserts like pies, tarts and smoothies as well as in salads, jam and wine. (The peel should be removed because it is slightly bitter.)
•In 2009, the pawpaw was named Ohio's state native fruit. (The tomato is the official state fruit.)
(Information from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Pawpaw Growers Association.)
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Aug. 13, 2012
Comment from Kay: Great story! Having been born and raised way (way) down in Southern Ohio - I many times ate pawpaws and way (way) before I ever tasted a banana! So I think they are much tastier than bananas. I haven't even seen a pawpaw for many years, so Mr. Froehlich, I may have to drop by for one when they are ripe. What fun to read this story Rick. Thanks again for the great stories you write.
Comment from Max: I have many Paw Paw trees in my yard, and over the years the one's that most often bear fruit are the larger older trees. They have a dark maroon flower that is said to resemble rotting meat in color and odor to attract the carrion flies that pollinate them. In your article about the hawk, it most likely flew into a window, stunned itself, and then recovered. I have had this occur many times at my house over the years, with most birds recovering. Unfortunately not all recover, and one of the dead birds near my picture window was a Sharp-shinned Hawk.
The hawk (Aug. 1, 2012)
While I was walking by the Groveport Presbyterian Church last Saturday afternoon, a fellow sitting in a car parked in the alley waved me over.
"Look there," he said pointing toward the church. "I think it's a hawk."
Sure enough, there, standing on the sidewalk by the church's side door, was a magnificent hawk.
But something appeared wrong with the hawk, it looked like it was dazed.
The other man got out of his car and we slowly walked over to the hawk as a couple of interested kids watched from a distance. The hawk did not fly off, but instead gave us a wary look with its piercing eyes and then took a few steps away from us.
There was no visible sign of physical damage to the hawk. It's legs and wings looked undamaged. There was no bleeding wound. We stepped closer and the hawk flapped its wings and tried to fly up to a low window ledge, but it couldn't reach it.
The other man suggested that maybe the hawk ate some fermented wild berries, which made it wobbly, or smacked into a building or tree while chasing prey and knocked itself silly.
We walked closer and got within about four feet of the bird. Its feathers were bright and beautiful and its talons and beak sharp and formidable. The hawk looked powerful, wild and much bigger than I expected.
The hawk never took its eyes off us as we cautiously watched it. This ruler of the skies showed no fear of we land dwellers.
We stood near the hawk for a few minutes trying to decide if it needed help or not. The hawk answered that question itself when, in a quick burst, it flew about 20 feet to the foot of a nearby tree.
"Well, it definitely can fly now," I said. "Maybe it's recovered."
We watched the hawk a little while longer to make sure it would be alright. The hawk began moving about more confidently. Suddenly, it flew off, gracefully swooping and deftly maneuvering through trees and buildings. It landed on a fence in the distance.
We were happy to see the hawk now appeared to be ok. I was glad we could share a moment with it, see it up close and, for a brief time, be where the wild things are.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Aug. 1, 2012
Comment from Josh: Rick, if you would update that cellphone a bit, maybe you could've taken a picture of said hawk!
Comment from Shirley: Thanks for sharing this story, I love reading about any birds with stories of interest.
Land lined (July 26, 2012)
A friend of mine was recently in a phone store to inquire about ways to lower her telephone bills. When she told the 20-something salesperson she had a land line phone, the salesperson said with a smile, "Oh, you have an old fashioned phone!"
The salesperson then, when talking to a co-worker to gather pricing information said, while pointing to my friend, "She has an old fashioned phone."
I'm officially old because I, too, still have a land line phone. I actually have two. In my case I'm even more ancient because my land line phones aren't even cordless, they are still tethered to the wall jack.
And, no, they aren't rotary dial phones. My phones have push button key pads. I'm not that much of a geezer.
I have a cell phone and I do like it. It comes in handy at times, but I don't use it much. This is more out of my laziness of not wanting to haul it around and keep track of it all the time than anything else. Also, it's nice to not always be electronically connected.
I've never given up my land line phone because it's dependable. It doesn't fade out like cell phone calls do when one strays too far from a cell tower. Also, when there is an electric power outage, my land line phone still works. When the power's out, I can't readily recharge a cell phone.
I have a cozy chair near a window by one of my land line phones. It makes for a nice, comfortable place to sit and talk. I'm not distracted by getting up and wandering around and doing other things while talking on the phone. Instead I'm able to give the person on the other end of the call my full attention.
One of these days my land line phones will go the way of the horse and buggy. But, until then, they still have a place at my house. I think I'll make a call or two.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, July 26, 2012
Comment from Shirley: Thanks for this great story. I love it and I know just what you are saying because I feel the same way. You have some worth reading stories, keep it up.
Wired (July 18, 2012)
I am now very aware of the presence of the electric power lines crisscrossing the landscape ever since the the storms of June 29 and July 1 knocked out electric power for days on end.
Before the storms I didn't pay much attention to the lines hanging overhead. Now the lines seem to be everywhere I look.
The electric power lines appear to reach every place, just like veins and arteries course through all the parts of a body. The electricity humming through those lines provides the power that helps propel our lives much like the flowing blood in veins and arteries keep our bodies alive.
Power lines can be seen soaring from pole to pole along roads, over yards, above creeks, through park woodlands, by farm fields, among subdivisions and in industrial parks.
There are wooden utility poles the lines hang from that look like they could be a century old. A few of these old poles are bent and discolored with age, but they're still standing. I think about the original lineman who long ago installed these poles and wires that ushered in a modern age of electrical power for rural areas and towns. Did these workers picture how much the world would develop around these poles and wires?
I've also noticed the brawny, tall metal power line towers that seem to stride across the land with their girdered legs. The lines appear to fly through the sky from these high towers.
In some places there are rows of wires strung from the various poles and towers reflecting the busy modern world. In other places there is a simple, lone line connected to shorter wooden poles that border an old dirt lane providing power to a farmhouse.
The electrical lines are like a vast spider web. Are we the spider benefitting from the electrical web or are we the prey caught in our dependent need for the power it brings?
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, July 18, 2012
Comment from Cheryl S.: The answer is both.
Comment from Kay: Wow, Mr. Palsgrove, that really gives us a lot to think about!
When cool met hot (July 11, 2012)
He was one cool customer.
For 30 years he hung out in a corner of the kitchen guarding the steps to the basement. Square shouldered and plain in appearance, his only concession to fashion was a few simple, colorful magnets stuck to his chest. Though he was a cool character, folks called him "Hotpoint."
Little affected him as he towered there - not dust, not cat fur, not power outages nor an occasional door slam. He always remained cool in hot situations. That is, until she came along.
Her name was June July and she strolled into town with a stifling breeze under a scorching summer sun. She decided to stay awhile, made herself at home and settled in for a couple of weeks. She was hot, real hot, that real dangerous kind of hot. Plus, she could get downright stormy if the mood struck her.
Hotpoint had seen her kind before and weathered the swelter of these past pretenders with ease. But she was different. He tried to stay cool, but she was always there, day and night, with her hot air and thick humidity surrounding him. She kept his motor running. She made him sweat.
Hotpoint attempted to ward off her steamy advances, but June July turned up the heat. It was too much for old Hotpoint. He wanted to keep his cool, but instead he strained, sputtered and wheezed in the heat and gave up the ghost.
All that was left when they opened him up afterwards were some melted ice cubes, wilted lettuce, lukewarm grape juice and some other now unrecognizable things.
June July hit the road for other towns and other places. But she'll be back.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, July 11, 2012
After the storms (July 3, 2012)
A woman I know who lives atop a hill in southeastern Madison Township could see, on the horizon, the powerful storms of June 29 and July 1 rolling in fast. She could hear the ominous roar of the 80 mph winds of the first of the two storms off in the distance before they whipped through her property.
I watched as the storms strained the tall locust and pine trees in my front yard. During the first of the storms, the thick trunks of the trees swayed in the buffeting winds. Three gray squirrels clung to the locust tree trunk on a side away from the wind. They had climbed down from their lofty nest in the tree canopy and flattened themselves against the trunk holding on for dear life. The tree and the squirrels weathered the storm.
The violent storms took down streetlights, broke tree limbs and branches, tore off roof shingles, tossed trash cans about, knocked out electric power, flattened flowers and generally shook everyone up.
In the aftermath, neighbors came out of their homes to compare notes with each other about what was damaged and how they could help one another in the excessive heat.
While picking up downed limbs and sticks in my yard on the morning after the first storm, two small neighborhood boys dressed in Batman and Spiderman outfits came by and asked me what I was doing.
"Picking up tree branches and sticks the storm knocked down," I said.
"Why?" they asked.
I paused and smiled, knowing anything I said would sound like a boring adult answer.
The following day, more limbs and sticks were blown down by the next storm. Smart kids.
The storms brought nights no longer pierced by artificial light, sounds of sirens in the distance and contemplation on just how dependent we are on electricity.
But the storms also brought out the better nature of people in the community. Helping hands and empathy were plentiful.
While walking down Groveport's Main Street I saw a sign of people's resiliency and strength of spirit. The city had placed American flags on the streetlight poles in honor of the upcoming Fourth of July holiday. Most of the flags held on in the winds, but a few others had blown down. However, someone, or maybe a few people, had retrieved the wet, fallen banners from the ground and carefully draped them on benches and sign posts.
Though battered, hot and soggy, we, like those flags, rise back up by helping each other.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, July 3, 2012
Turkey trot (June 27, 2012)
Photo courtesy of Josh Guiler
This wild turkey ponders her escape route as she eyes the fence in a backyard on Groveport's Tallman Street.
Groveport Police Officer Josh Guiler recently had to talk turkey to a feathery "suspect."
"We received a call that there was a wild turkey in a backyard on Tallman Street," said Guiler. "The caller was afraid the turkey might hurt someone."
Guiler said he cornered the turkey in the fenced backyard.
"It was a hen and it must have been young because it wasn't wary of people like a mature wild turkey would be. It did not pose any danger or harm to anyone," said Guiler, who is also an avid hunter and fisherman.
Guiler said the turkey appeared confused by all the backyard fences in the neighborhood.
"Then it figured out it could keep flying over the fences and it worked its way over to Benson Drive," said Guiler.
Rather than catching the turkey, Guiler said he "let the turkey do its thing" until it found its way across the yards and out of town back to the nearby fields and woods.
"It's odd to see a turkey in town," said Guiler. "Usually turkeys like wooded areas. It was neat to see it up close."
Guiler said young turkeys are on the move this time of year seeking out their own territories. He said the dry spring has probably resulted in an increased wild turkey population in the area.
It is becoming more common to see wild animals in town as they adapt to the presence of people as well as finding hiding places and food sources in the small town neighborhoods.
Guiler said that, on his patrols in and around Groveport, he has seen and heard coyotes, skunks, deer, eagles, osprey, hawks, possums and raccoons.
"You never know what you'll see," said Guiler. "There's a lot of wildlife around us."
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, June 27, 2012
The last of the playground trees (June 20, 2012)
A couple of weeks ago the large maple tree that stood at the edge of the Groveport Elementary School playground at Wirt Road and Cron Drive was cut down.
The tree was dying and its trunk was largely hollow, so it was taken down by the Groveport public works department as a safety precaution.
"It's the last of the big playground trees we knew as kids," Groveport Public Works supervisor Dennis Moore told me in a wistful tone in reference to our days there as schoolboys.
The other towering old trees that once graced the playground succumbed to various fates over the years, just like people do.
There is still one big oak tree thriving near the school's sidewalk beside a ramp that leads down to the playground. While the oak is technically not rooted in the playground, we kids did play on that nearby asphalt ramp in the winter by sliding down it on shreds of cardboard boxes on icy winter days. So, one could say that big oak is the last of the mighty playground trees.
The tall maple at Cron and Wirt was notable because it marked the dirt path passage way through the fence from the street to the playground. It stood guard at that makeshift gate between playground world and real world. I and other kids brushed against that maple tree's trunk countless times over the years as we passed by it going through the fence gap. Groveport once had many of these little shortcut dirt path passage ways scattered around town that were worn down by kids' feet over the years. These paths have mostly been replaced by sidewalks or blocked by sturdy fences.
Trees grow up with us. As kids running around on that playground, those trees appeared to be huge in size to us because we were small. As we grew, so proportionately did the trees, so these trees always seemed big to us.
The playground trees were part of our games in those school days. They were safe spots for tag and hide-and-seek, forts, bases, refuges and shady spots to daydream.
Most likely no one intentionally planted that big old maple at Cron and Wirt. It was probably a random seed that liked the soil there and grew undisturbed by the fence.
I'd like to think the old tree liked us kids as much as we liked it.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, June 20, 2012
At "The Shop" (June 13, 2012)
I started my first "real" job in the summer of 1974.
I had just graduated from high school and previously, through much of teenage years, I earned money by mowing more than a dozen yards each summer. It was nice, independent work and I made enough for spending money and to save a little bit. But in 1974 a real, structured work life with bosses and actual paychecks began when I started working at Palsgrove Manufacturing on Winchester Pike.
Nearly every young Palsgrove male worked at Palsgrove Manufacturing, a place the family called "The Shop," at one time or another. My grandfather and his brothers started the business in the 1940s and originally made farming equipment, but when I worked there the company made lawn and garden equipment for Sears.
I worked all summer at The Shop until September when I started college. I earned minimum wage, which, if memory serves me correctly, was around $2 an hour back then. It doesn't sound like much, but I thought I was rich when I got that first weekly paycheck.
My great-uncle, Leo Palsgrove, had me try my hand at several jobs at The Shop. My dad was a good welder so Leo had me try that to see if the welding genes passed on to me. I put the welding hood on and proceeded to attempt to weld a bead on a wagon joint. It was hard to see out of the hood, but I thought I was doing a good job until I took the hood off and saw a beautifully straight welding bead on the concrete floor because I had missed the wagon completely.
Leo just laughed and said, "Maybe you're not a welder."
Over the next few weeks, Leo had me ream wheels, bend sheet metal, and cut rods. All of which I did poorly.
Finally he put me in the shipping area where I packed goods and loaded trucks.
Since I was a Palsgrove, and therefore a relative of the management, many of my co-workers were wary of me and sometimes tested me.
One day it was time to restock the shipping cartons. This meant someone had to go up to a storage loft area high above the floor to retrieve a new supply of cartons. The foreman told me to go get the cartons.
"How do I get up there?" I asked.
"With this," he said handing me a narrow, uneven, rickety metal ladder that Leo had made decades ago.
I've always been afraid of heights, but I didn't want to lose face, so I took the wobbly ladder and with shaky legs slowly inched my way up to the storage loft. I crawled into the loft and dropped the cartons to the workers below. I then sat there for a few minutes contemplating my death because I knew the trip down the ladder would kill me.
As I sat there, I heard the foreman rumbling over to the loft with the forklift.
"Here, get on the forks and I'll bring you down," he said.
Once I reached the floor he and my co-workers laughed and he said, "We wanted to see if you'd do it. No one ever uses that (expletive) ladder. We always ride up on the forklift."
After that my co-workers seemed to accept me.
Another day, when work in the shipping area was slow, Leo took me outside and said, "I've got another job for you."
He took me up on the flat roof of The Shop and said he wanted me to spread fresh tar the roof.
At first I thought this was great because it meant being outside instead of being cooped up in the The Shop. But I didn't factor in that it was a hot July day. I spread the goopy, black tar all day. I've never felt so hot in my life since. I imagined the blood coursing through my veins looking and feeling like the tar I was spreading. When I climbed down at the end of the day Leo joked, "A little warm, wasn't it?"
As I worked that summer, the days and weeks blended together with the monotony of the daily tasks. Each day I looked forward to the escape lunch hour would bring. I usually packed my lunch and would eat my peanut butter sandwich while sitting under a tree by the side of the parking lot. Once a week I would treat myself by driving down Winchester Pike to the McDonald's at Berwick Plaza for lunch. I liked going there because that McDonald's employed many pretty young women, many of whom were my former classmates. I would walk into the restaurant, dirty and gritty from The Shop, and try to impress them with the image that I was a real working man. They were not impressed.
September rolled around and with it my last day at The Shop. It proved to be eventful. On that day during lunch, someone driving by on Winchester Pike pitched a puppy out of their car near The Shop. It was a little gray puffball no bigger than the palm of my hand that I carried around in my shirt the rest of the day. I took him home and that little pup grew into a 110 pound, blonde and black, feisty Norwegian Elkhound called Scrapper who lived with my family for 11 years.
I went on to other odds and ends jobs while I was in my early 20s, most of which I remember little about. But I remember The Shop and how being there introduced me into the adult working world.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, June 13, 2012
Ram on (May 30, 2012)
By 1971, my circle of teenage companions and I had dismissed the Beatles as having become "uncool" (with the exception of George Harrison who we felt had maintained his credibility by not letting the Lennon-McCartney juggernaut destroy him).
The Fab Four was going their separate ways and issuing solo albums, which we largely ignored. But, in the summer of 1971 when I was 15 going on 16, I heard Paul and Linda McCartney's "Ram" album with its weird collection of songs that were melodic and full of odd sounds. It was unlike most of the other music being released at the time. That album was just out there.
My peers thought I was crazy for liking this odd album, but it just stuck in my head in that subjective way music adheres to an individual.
The dozen tunes (including a reprise of "Ram On," a ukulele driven tune that eventually fades out during a sort of rave up stomp) are a mixed stew.
The songs range from the crackling rockers "Too Many People" and "Eat at Home;" to anthemic/ballad type songs like "Long Haired Lady" and "The Back Seat of My Car;" to the folksy "Heart of the Country;" to the outright strange "Monkberry Moon Delight," "3 Legs," "Uncle Albert and Admiral Halsey," and "Smile Away." ("Smile Away" included the throwaway line, "Smile away horribly now," which I later applied to the toothy dog smile of our Norwegian Elkhound, Scrapper, a smile that looked both happy and menacingly horrible at the same time.)
McCartney unleashed every odd sound he didn't, or couldn't, use with the Beatles and blended them with a catchy melody in some of the songs or just let float along in other numbers. His vocals on this album stretched from his usual familiar tone to a raw, throaty voice that almost sounded like it would consume him. It's like he pushed to the edge and set himself free, which in turn made me feel more free and aware in my early high school years.
I mean, if McCartney, a Beatle, could sound like a weirdo, what did it matter if the rest of us were considered oddballs by either our peers or those in authority? We could create and think what we wanted for the pure joy of expressing it.
After hearing the "Ram" album, I wondered what McCartney might pull off next now that it seemed he didn't really care what critics or his former bandmates thought (all of which expressed disregard for "Ram.")
But McCartney moved on to form the band "Wings" and returned to his mainstream, tried and true, often bland, musical ways and he has not done anything as interesting since.
But that doesn't matter, because "Ram" will always be there to remind us what he, and we, are capable of doing if we set ourselves free.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, May 30, 2012
Art at a leisurely pace (May 16, 2012)
I wandered over to the the Canal Winchester Art Guild's "Art Stroll" in downtown Canal Winchester on the fine evening of May 12 and found it to be both a relaxing and enlightening experience.
"Art Stroll" is a good name for the event. Visitors strolled about the streets, backyards, storefronts and studios drinking in the art displays at a leisurely pace. There was no sense of hurry or urgency. Instead there was time to look, time to breathe, and time to talk.
Unlike the famed Gallery Hop in Columbus' Short North, which at times seems frantic and also appears to be a place merely to see and be seen rather than appreciating the art in the galleries, the relaxed feel of the Canal Winchester Art Stroll felt pleasant and it focused on the art and the local artists who created it.
And what a variety of artworks! There were paintings, collage, glass, jewelry, photography, fiber art, quilts and mixed media. One location displayed antique objects, which in their prime were everyday useful objects that now, in their old age retirement from the daily world, can be viewed for the beauty of their functional lines and appealing design.
Music provided by the Canal Winchester High School Steel Drum Band, a barber shop quartet, and acoustic guitarist Casey Redmond enhanced the atmosphere by providing a pleasing soundtrack to the visual artistic delights.
This kind of public event is one of the ways small towns shine. It spotlights both the physical and spiritual beauty of a town. It is a way of bringing a community together to share in the collective creativity of its people.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, May 16, 2012
The box under the bed (May 9, 2012)
Every now and then I get the urge to purge my house of things. I'm a big believer in simple living and keeping only what I really want and need.
Last week I donated a couch to a furniture bank, gave away an assortment of smaller items and tossed out a nasty little chair that had been hanging out in the basement collecting spider webs for almost 30 years.
In my digging around the house, I decided to take a look under the bed to see what was there. I can't remember the last time I peeked under there. What I found among some rather amazing looking dust bunnies and some spare floor slats was a discolored cardboard box.
I had no idea what was in the box. I couldn't remember putting it there. It was heavier than expected as I dragged it out. I lifted the lid and there, catching the light, was my mom's shiny black autoharp.
When I was a kid, mom would strum old folk tunes on this autoharp and as soon as I saw it again I could instantly see and hear my mom in the dining room of our old house playing and singing, "That dirty little coward, who shot Mr. Howard, has laid poor Jesse in his grave."
I plucked and gently strummed the strings. It was definitely out of tune, but the autoharp still retained its distinctive ringing, rich sound and filled the room with notes.
I remembered then that mom gave me the autoharp many years ago when I was in a losing battle trying to learn to play the guitar. I love music, but my musicianship has always been in question dating back to my boyhood days when I frustrated a piano teacher with my inability to play, "Lots of Good Fish in the Sea."
As far as the guitar, I plateaued quickly and never rose above a basic level of playing a dozen or so chords. At that point many years ago, my confidence in trying to be a musician must have waned and I didn't give the autoharp a proper chance. I put the guitar away and slid the autoharp under the bed.
Mom gave her autoharp to me to encourage me to keep trying with music thinking that, if I couldn't mesh with one instrument, maybe I could with another. That's what mothers do - they encourage you, have faith in you and love you no matter what.
Thank you, mom. I'm going to give that autoharp a try.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, May 9, 2012
Comment from Kay:What a great story for Mothers Day! I bet others are remembering something extra special about their mother. I am remembering how mine sat with a guitar singing "You Are My Sunshine" and "My Buddy." However, her daughter did not inherit her talents, as I too failed with the guitar and piano! Thanks Rick!
A small town in 1962 (May 2, 2012)
When living in a small town, one tends to think things do not change much. Sure, there's more traffic today, but the surroundings are familiar and in one's mind it can appear things have always been as they are.
But, in reality, small towns change, grow and evolve over the years. Sometimes it's a demolition or a growth spurt, while at other times the face of a town changes gradually.
In his book, "Small Town America," David Plowden wrote, "At (mid-20th century)...The small town was as yet not entirely cut off from its rural heritage...Most were still market places...where people who lived in the surrounding countryside still went 'down street' to trade or do business...A photograph of 'downtown' almost anywhere taken (in 1900) looks essentially the same as one taken in 1950. The main difference was that cars and pickup trucks had replaced horses and wagons on the street and that the facades had been modernized."
Fifty years ago, Groveport was a farm village with a population of around 2,000. The surrounding township was made up of numerous family farms. Today Groveport is a city of more than 5,000 residents with large commercial warehouse and industrial parks, a retail center on west Main Street, and fresh new subdivisions of homes sprouting in the former farm fields.
Looking at a 1909 photo of Groveport's downtown and comparing it to one from the late 1950s confirms Plowden's observation. The only differences in the later photo from the first are that the street is paved, a traffic light hangs overhead, street lights mingle with the trees, and modern signs pop from the storefronts. Constant in both pictures are the 19th century architecture as well as the towering Town Hall, looking much the same as it has since 1876.
Groveport in 1962 had at least four small grocery stores (or markets as they were called) that were a blend of the past and modernity in that they offered both the latest packaged goods as well as fresh produce from the countryside.
The growing automobile culture was evident as Painter Motor Sales sold Chryslers and Plymouths and Ralph Smith sold Chevrolets. Plus, several service stations did business along the length of Main Street.
In those days the town boasted a pharmacy as well as several restaurants including the Cruz-Her-Inn, Drake's Restaurant, the Lunch Box, and Richie's Pizza. There were two furniture stores - Bierberg's (which featured knick-knacks on the sills of the store's big picture windows) and Groveport Furniture.
The Eskimo Creme, with its big sign depicting an Eskimo holding an ice cream cone, served frosty delights in what is now the remodeled Dairy Queen. I also remember the Eskimo Creme for its long yellow bug lights and its outdoor drinking fountain that dispensed ice cold water.
The original Birch Tavern occupied the corner of Crooked Alley and Main Street. The more than 100-year-old building, that featured a second story balcony, burned down in the late 1980s. A new Birch Tavern is now operating next door.
Groveport's connection to the area farms was evident in 1962 by the North Grain Company and Farm Bureau grain elevators located by the railroad tracks and Groveport Implement, which sold bright orange Allis-Chalmers farm equipment on Main Street at Brook Alley.
Schools often dominate the landscape of a small town. In 1962, Groveport Madison High School occupied what is now the junior high on Main Street. The school's varsity football team played on the field directly behind the school on land that was once Cruiser's pasture. Football Friday nights were the only time one saw what could be considered a traffic jam in town.
Fifty years ago, the entire Groveport Madison school district consisted of just four schools - the high school and Groveport Elementary on Main Street, plus Brice Elementary and Edwards Elementary outside of town.
In 1962, the large Groveport swimming pool on Hendron Road was brand new and a happening place, especially for the growing number of youths in town and the township.
Since 1962, houses have been remodeled, businesses have come and gone, vacant lots have been filled, streets reconstructed, trees cut down, trees planted, buildings torn down and new ones built in Groveport.
A lot has changed, but if one looks carefully, a lot is the same. A small town is where the ordinary and extraordinary elements of time share the same space.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, May 2, 2012
Comment from Matt:I had entirely forgotten about Groveport Implement. Also, I recall getting drinks of water from the fountain at Eskimo Crème - we didn't even get off our bikes! We must have been such street urchins. That fountain later became necessary to counteract the ice cream aftertaste, which today may be why I do not crave ice cream. These are great memories - keep 'em up!
Map mania (April 25, 2012)
Regular readers of this column know that I like paper maps. Paper maps are big, colorful and provide a broad scope of a particular corner of the world when they are spread out for viewing. They are like works of art.
I don't even mind refolding them. It's kind of challenging in its own twisted way.
There's a recently published map that I really like. It's the new city of Groveport map.
What I found most striking about this full color, 24 inch by 36 inch map when I unfolded it is just how green the Groveport area is. The abundance of parks and creeks in and around the city helps this urban area maintain a distinctly rural feel.
The map not only provides clearly identified roadways (even the alleys), but also shows the miles of bicycle/leisure path trails in the area.
A chart and corresponding colorful identifying numbers also makes it easy to locate city facilities, city parks, Metro Parks, schools, churches, and other points of interest such as cemeteries, library, township facilities, museums, and more.
Another feature I like about the map is that the street grid and other identifying markers are superimposed over an aerial photo of the area. This enables one to see where buildings and other facilities are positioned as well as their relative size. It's a nice touch. It reminds of the old 19th century town maps where the outlines of buildings were drawn in along the street grid.
Flip the map over and there is an easy to use street locator chart, civic phone numbers and a brief history of Groveport. Plus, there is extensive information about bicycle safety, bike path etiquette, and bicycling tips.
There's a lot to look at on this map. The map is free and is available at the Groveport Recreation Center, Groveport Town Hall and the Groveport Municipal Building. Pick one up!
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, April 25, 2012
The purity of running, jumping and throwing (April 18, 2012)
Yesterday I stood in the bushy grass in the middle of the football field at Cruiser Stadium, its spring green blades free of the rigid white gridiron yard lines of autumn, and absorbed the swirl of color and activity of the high school track meet unfolding before me.
Visible all around were young male and female athletes - clad in the maroon and white of Canal Winchester, the red and black of Groveport Madison, the purple and gold of Reynoldsburg, and the green and gold of Northland - competing in track and field events taking place simultaneously in different parts of the stadium.
There was much to see and appreciate: flying pole vaulters, soaring high jumpers, explosive broad jumpers, tough distance relay runners, speedy sprinters, leaping hurdlers and strong shotput and discus throwers.
Track and field, with its basic components of running, jumping and throwing, is an ancient sport that exalts the power of the human body in its purest and simplest form. These young athletes are following in the footsteps of the athletes of past ages; the grace of their movements are the connecting bond between then and now.
Compared to other sporting events, a track meet has a relaxed, almost informal air about it. There is no large, loud, raucous crowd of spectators, but instead small clumps of fans in the stands interacting easily with the athletes. One can see groups of athletes leisurely sitting or standing in small groups happily chatting with each other as they await their events. Often it is not just teammates gathered together waiting, but athletes from different teams visiting in a friendly way with one another. I see more smiles on the faces of athletes at a track meet than at all of the other sporting events I've ever been to or been a part of.
This calm nature of a track meet is punctuated by bursts of intense energy as events unfold. But when the race or field event is over, the athletes assume a peaceful demeanor once again.
Following a hurdles race, I noticed two hurdlers, one from Canal Winchester and one from Groveport Madison, joking with one another. One asked, "What was your time?" The other laughingly replied, "I don't know. I was just hoping I didn't fall down!" They patted each other on the shoulders and walked off together smiling.
Track and field is as much about competing against oneself and the clock as it is facing off against an opponent. Unlike some other sports, the athletes wear no padding and do not crash into, nor physically bash their opponents.
Instead, it's all about the purity of running, jumping and throwing.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, April 18, 2012
Night owls (April 11, 2012)
Lately I've noticed that many of the emails and Facebook postings I receive are being written and sent in the wee hours of the morning.
I have bouts with insomnia and, like many insomniacs, I always assumed everyone else was sleeping while I was up and about. That doesn't seem to be the case.
Something seems to be going on in the culture that is keeping people up at night.
The first culprit to blame could be our busy, hectic modern lifestyle where everyone seems to be pulled several directions at once with job, family, friends, hobbies, community commitments and electronic devices all demanding attention. Is it that 16 waking hours of the day are not enough to get all our work and social obligations completed? Could be.
Then there is the accompanying tension and worry connected to all these obligations. Those stresses alone are enough to keep anyone awake. Maybe heading to the computer in the middle of the night to connect to people digitally helps to ease the strain.
In discussing this with a friend, he observed, "It's the time-insensitive nature of devices. Much in the way that a casino is set up to operate the same any time of day or night, the computer is equally open."
Another possible reason for the midnight wakefulness could be that it is the only part of the day when many people have quiet time to themselves. It could be the time of day when one can take a deep breath and relax in the solitude while others are tucked in bed.
A more practical explanation could be that most of us do not work physically exhausting jobs like in the old days, so maybe we're not as bodily tired at the end of the day and simply aren't sleepy. But it could be that our modern desk jobs make our brains too wired and drive sleep away.
Maybe our dreams and nightmares have become too boring and are not worth going to sleep for.
Worse yet, maybe the whole pop culture vampire trend has gone too far and people are becoming creatures of the night.
The question still remains - just when are people sleeping?
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, April 11, 2012
Comment from Kay:LOVE this one! People often ask me why I am sending then a note (or info) at 1:00 in the morning! Because I can't get to sleep! :o)
Comment from Tammy: I've "noticed" my entire sleep/wake cycle changing... I guess it is just getting older.lol Side note: I find my self getting hungry for "dinner" a lot "earlier" than I used to?! Uh-oh!!!
Whether leather (April 4, 2012)
The black leather jacket worn by the tough guy, the chic and dressy long leather coat draped over the fashionista, and the tight leather pants hugging the body of a rock star are all articles of clothing that are meant to evoke a non-conformist, cool image.
Yet, all this leather is just clothing.
Mankind invented clothes to protect the body from the cold and from physical harm.The popular image of the leather clad biker sprang out of the need of the motorcyclist to protect one's skin from being raked raw after a wipe out sends the rider skidding down the asphalt. Cowboys wore leather chaps to protect their legs while wrangling.
Though clothes have this protective role, it is clothing as image that dominates our view and leather has played a prominent role in establishing iconic cool.
But it's not the clothes, it's who is wearing the leather that defines what makes the image cool.
Suzi Quatro and Joan Jett are both rockers who embraced the leather look, but Jett exudes far more cool than Quatro just by her strong persona.
Everyone wants to evoke the cool image wearing leather can bring, but not everyone can pull it off. Plus, not everyone can afford leather, so our society, which loves all things pseudo, invented plastic leather, known as pleather.
No matter how hard it tries, pleather is just not cool. No matter how hard people try, many of us do not look cool no matter what we wear.
But, maybe the leather look is whatever we want it to be and as cool as we choose for it to be.
I had a friend once tell me that a housefly is the biker of the insect world because it looks like it is wearing a black leather jacket and is always buzzing around and bugging the man.
So, if even a housefly can be considered to look cool and be cool, so can the rest of us regardless of what we wear.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, April 4, 2012
The looming board (March 28, 2012)
The "board of education" usually hung prominently on the wall of the classroom.
This board was not the one made up of elected officials, but instead was a piece of flat, sturdy wood with a handle cut into one end.
The board was a paddle used to swat behinds when students got out of line decades ago in the days when corporal punishment was a common form of control in schools.
In those days there were teachers who placed the board in plain view of the students in the classroom as a visual deterrent to remind them of its menacing presence.
Some teachers didn't personally employ the board or did not believe in its use. But, you still knew there was another board down the hall hanging on the wall in the principal's office.
A few paddle wielders drilled holes in their boards and explained to students that the holes cut down the wind resistance and enabled the board to be swung with more authority.
Others let students autograph the board after receiving swats as a weird kind of badge of honor.
Some authority figures would give students an option: you could either take several days of after school detention for a transgression or just get the punishment over with quickly with a few painful swats.
Most guys I knew defiantly chose the swats and proudly never shed a tear, no matter how hard the board came down.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, March 28, 2012
Experience Ohio and local history (March 21, 2012)
If you are a fan of local history, you'll find many historical events to experience this spring. Here are some you may enjoy:
•Mark Twain, as portrayed by professional humorist and storyteller Stephen Hollen, will speak at the Canal Winchester Area Historical Society meeting on April 3 at 7:30 p.m. in the Hockman Meeting Room at the O.P. Chaney elevator, located at the corner of North High and Oak streets. Meetings are free and open to the public. For information, contact Joy Habegger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
•The Carroll Area Historical Society (CAHS) will host its second historical tour on May 5 from noon until 5 p.m. Five historical homes and sites will be featured.
The tour will also include presentations at Lockville Park about the history of the Ohio-Erie Canal. The tour is self-guided and requires driving to most tour sites. Chair massage will also be offered at Carroll Wellness. Since May 5 is Kentucky Derby Day, tour-goers who wear their "Derby" hat will have their name entered twice (at time of registration) for a chance to win a gift basket courtesy of CAHS.
Tickets may be purchased in advance at the Carroll Municipal Office, 68 Center St., Monday through Thursday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tickets are $12 per adult; $15 day of tour. Tour day registration is at Bessie Benson Memorial Park in Carroll. For information contact June Queen (740) 756-7084 or email email@example.com or visit www.cahstour.vpweb.com.
•Eddie Black will present a program entitled, "Mail Pouch Barns in the Ohio Valley" at 7:30 p.m. on April 12 at the Pickerington-Violet Historical Society's museum, located at 15 E. Columbus St. in Pickerington.
•The Mid-Ohio Historical Museum, 700 Winchester Pike, Canal Winchester, is open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. beginning April 4. The museum contains thousands of rare antique dolls and toys. Admission is $3 (free for children under age six). For information visit http://home.att.net/~dollmuseum or call (614) 837-5573 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
•The Groveport Heritage Museum features photos, artifacts, maps and documents of Groveport's town history, including information on the Ohio and Erie Canal, John S. Rarey and Cruiser, school history, farming history and more. The museum is open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday at Groveport Town Hall, 648 Main St. Call 836-3333.
•Take a walk down the bike path in Groveport Park to see Ohio and Erie Canal lock #22, a piece of Ohio's canal past. The 181-year-old large stone lock is one of the more accessible canal locks in the area and in good condition for its age.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, March 21, 2012
Coyotes near Groveport (March 14, 2012)
One recent night I was walking along Wirt Road near the Groveport Cemetery when I heard, off in the distance toward Walnut Creek, the musical, yet wild howl of coyotes.
The howl sounded beautiful, but it also made it clear that the wild world is never far from our doorsteps. The Groveport area is surrounded by tree lined creeks, woodland areas and open lands where coyotes can roam.
Groveport Police Chief Ralph Portier said coyotes recently took down a deer in a field just off Ebright Road. Another coyote was struck by a car in the area.
"They can be heard throughout the night while they hunt for food," Portier told Groveport City Council on March 12. "The coyotes are ranging very close to homes and the bicycle and walking paths."
Portier said the furtive, fast moving coyotes are becoming more comfortable living near people and are also a danger to small pets.
"Our police officers have been advised to notify me or the game warden if they see coyotes," said Portier. "We are asking the public to also call us if they see coyotes. Even if we cannot dispatch them, we need to track them for animal control specialists."
If you see a coyote, call the Groveport police at 830-2060.
Although coyotes do not typically attack humans, they have been known to attack small pets, according to the Ohio Wildlife Center (OWC).
The OWC offers the following ways to co-exist with coyotes as well ways as to protect household animals and to make you and your property less inviting to coyotes:
•Fence outdoor animal enclosures completely.
•Keep cats and small dogs inside.
•Do not leave pets smaller than 45 pounds unattended for long at night.
•Feed your pets inside to eliminate potential food sources.
•Keep trash covered tightly.
•Keep yards free of potential hiding places such as thick brush or weeds.
•Enclose the bottom of porches and decks.
•Keep an eye on small children.
•If you encounter a coyote, the OWC suggests you do not turn and run away, but instead yell and wave your arms or use a stick to fend off the animal. If you happen to have pepper spray, that is also a defensive option.
According to the OWC, most coyote sightings occur during winter as these relatively shy animals can roam within residential areas without being confronted by people. Once the milder spring weather settles in most coyotes return to the woods to avoid human contact.
Other coyote facts from the OWC:
•A coyote couple has a territory of approximately five miles. Coyotes keep local ecosystems in balance by keeping other small predators, like feral cats and foxes, away.
•Although they tend to do most of their hunting after dusk, the coyote can be active at any time. Being out during daylight hours is not odd behavior, especially in winter months when food is scarce. It will hunt in pairs or family groups in search of small mammals such as shrews, voles and rabbits. The coyote will also eat fruits, grasses and vegetables. The OWC states that, in most cases, coyotes are no danger to humans.
•Although the coyote has a reputation for killing sheep and livestock, studies show livestock makes up only 14 percent of the coyote's diet, according to the Ohio Division of Wildlife. In urban areas, coyotes sometimes snatch squirrels, rabbits, raccoons and food from dumpsters or garbage cans.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, March 14, 2012
Comment from Darlene: I live in Elmont Place and my house backs a cornfield which goes all the way to Ebright. I have heard coyotes a few times right behind my house within at least 20 feet from my backdoor. Three nights ago they were yelping and scared me terribly,they must have tried to get a scunk because after I started yelling and clapping my hands to scare them the smell came. I have a Yorkie and do not let her go out at all without me being with her. These animals scare me!! I have also seen them many times within the past year in this area.
Riding "Cruiser" (Feb. 29, 2012)
Upon seeing a recent photo in the Southeast Messenger of Lacey Gray riding a horse representing the famed stallion, Cruiser, Barbara Schumacher Keller thought to herself, "I used to do that, too!"
Cruiser has been both a physical and spiritual presence as the school's mascot on Groveport Madison High School athletic fields for many years. On recent football Friday nights in the fall, freshman Lacey Gray, rides her horse, Raven, at Groveport Madison High School football games, serving as a representation of Cruiser.
But Gray has not been the only equestrian to fill this role as over the years a few others have climbed into the saddle to bring Cruiser to life.
One of those was Barbara Schumacher Keller, a 1947 graduate of Groveport Madison, who rode a horse representing Cruiser during football games in the mid-1940s on the old gridiron that sat just west of what is now Groveport Elementary (the field is now baseball diamonds).
"It was a horse owned by Chuck Miller. I think the horse's name was 'Stout,'" said Keller. "I was a nut for horses. Miller let me borrow the horse for games. He lived down near Pontius and London-Lancaster roads and on game days I would ride the horse all the way from his place to the school."
Keller carried an American flag as she and Stout, aka Cruiser, led the Groveport Madison marching band on the field at halftime.
"It was great," said Keller. "We would be on the field parading at halftime. During the game the horse stayed in a little gated area near the field. It was a well behaved horse."
After the games Keller had to take Stout on the long ride back to his home at Pontius and London-Lancaster roads south of Groveport.
"We had to ride home in the dark. I wasn't afraid and there wasn't much traffic in those days," said Keller. "But Paul Raver and Ken Shoemaker would follow me to make sure it was safe."
Having a flesh and blood mascot like Cruiser, one rooted in the history of the community, connects the young and the old and also brings perspective and meaning beyond mere athletics. It's something real that gives weight to the symbolism a mascot represents.
Keller hopes someone may have a photo they could share of her riding Stout. If you do, contact the Southeast Messenger at (614) 272-5422 by email at email@example.com.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Feb. 29, 2012
The couch (Feb. 22, 2012)
While a person's first car is a symbol of freedom, the purchase of one's first couch represents the seat of adulthood.
A couch is often the first piece of real, substantial furniture a young person buys when they leave home. When young adults leave the nest they take their old bed, maybe a hand-me-down television, and possibly a set of cobwebbed table and chairs that have been stored in a family's dingy basement or garage for years. A spare couch is not something that a family has lying around that they can give to a young homesteader.
A couch is big. A couch is heavy. A couch is expensive. A couch means permanence. When you get a couch you are setting down four-legged roots on the carpet.
So, a couch was the only new piece of furniture I bought when I moved into my first apartment long ago. Everything else came from my old room at home or was a usable cast off that I was happy to get.
I remember walking into Glick's with a handful of cash from part of a month's pay to buy a couch for my first place. (A wad of cash because I wanted to show off to the store clerks that I was actually a grown-up and Glick's because, being young and unaware, it was the only big furniture store I knew of after having seen their commercials on the "Flippo the Clown Show.")
I wasn't in the store long before I spied a big, chocolate brown couch with spongy cushions. It looked both sturdy and comfortable. I sat on it. I stretched out on it. I bought it.
The couch dominated the room in my tiny new apartment and I was pleased with it and myself. It was initiated into my world in its first week when one of my friends visited me in the apartment and threw himself heavily on the couch. His plopping sprung a spring and cracked one of the wood slat supports in the back. From that day on, whenever someone sat on that particular spot, the couch made a "squeak squawk" sound like it was in pain. But, the couch held up in spite of this and more abuse in the following years.
Friends called my couch, "The Sleeping Couch," because it had the bewitching ability to induce one to fall asleep on its spongy cushions no matter the time of day.
The couch was where I watched television. The couch was where I sat and ate pizza. The couch was where I read. The couch was where I camped when I was sick. The couch was where I catnapped. The couch was where my friends and I sat one long ago night near Halloween when another friend shocked us all by bursting through the front door wearing a werewolf mask.
That couch was worth the money.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Feb. 22, 2012
Are we all nomads? (Feb. 15, 2011)
"This perennial rebirth, this fluidity of American life..."
- from "History, Frontier, and Section," by Frederick Jackson Turner
"I have traveled a good deal in Concord."
- from "Walden," by Henry David Thoreau
Recently there was an interview on National Public Radio with an author who made an observation on how Americans are a nomadic people and how their restlessness creates change.
He noted that, even if you are the rare person who does not uproot oneself frequently, most everyone else in one's life is in a state of movement from one place to another either physically or in the virtual world of the computer. It's a swirl of movement of both street and online addresses - a way of reinvention, a way of looking for something better, a way to refresh one's world, or a way to survive.
Or for other reasons. I have one lifelong friend who, throughout most of his twenties, never lived more than a year in any one place.
"Sometimes I think I moved so often just so I wouldn't have to clean the place," he joked one day.
Throughout our history, Americans have been a restless breed. But a century or more ago, once people settled in place, they tended to stay there. There was an era in our history where some people never traveled more than several miles - or a day's horseback or carriage ride - from their home. Changes they created made an impact on their immediate surroundings and lives. Now people pack up the car or hop a plane and go across the country - the change they make is one of disappearance from one place and reappearance elsewhere.
I am not one of the nomads. I've lived in the same small town all my life. I've lived in four places in this town, but three of them are just about in the same neighborhood and one is just a few blocks away. Today, looking out the back window of my house across two yards and a street I can see the house where I grew up.
It's not that I shun new places. I'm glad to have splashed in the Atlantic Ocean, run across the sand dunes at Cape Cod, stood in the Appalachian Mountains and gazed at its towering trees and formidable ridges, to have walked the streets in New Orleans' French Quarter, and to have felt the wind coming off Lake Michigan in Chicago. But visiting is different from the immersion of living in a place.
For all the grandeur of other places, I never had an impulse to live elsewhere. I never saw a reason to leave my town, because that's what it is, it's my town. In the place where I live, people know me and I know them, be it for good or ill. Here the buildings, streets, towering old trees, cracks in the pavement, the manhole covers, the old houses, the railroad tracks, and the weathered canal lock are familiar faces.
But, is it possible not to be nomadic and still experience the rebirth that moving to a new place provides? Is it possible to grow and change while rooted in one place?
I believe so. The ongoing rebirth comes from within. It's about being aware and noticing as much as one can in both the natural world and in the man made world, then filtering and absorbing it all.
In discussing the NPR author interview with the friend I mentioned earlier, he said, "Life is inconstant, whether by my actions or those of others, and that staying in one locale does not exclude me from the change in my surroundings."
The people I know change each day. They grow older. They form new opinions. They re-invent themselves. I, too, transform, then we all react to one another.
The place I call home changes every day, too, and also prompts me to react in both small and big ways. The twist is that, each day, the place where I live is both old and new. Here I can live in the past, present and future all at once.
The place is part of me and I am part of it.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Feb. 15, 2011
The people (Feb. 8, 2012)
Strong viewpoints and raw emotion.
That's what I saw and heard on Feb. 4 at the Groveport Madison Schools' public forum regarding potential budgets cuts that are being considered because of shrinking revenue. At this forum, students, parents and community members stood up to offer a mix of suggestions, criticisms and support regarding the school programs on the potential budget chopping block.
One by one, the people stated their case. Some were eloquent, their words flowing and flowering. The voices of others quavered with nervous emotion, their eyes moist as they spoke. A tinge of controlled anger put on edge on some of the speakers' words. Others were methodical, laying out ideas and looking for a way out of the fiscal tangle, all while their eyes flashed with fire. Many told heartfelt stories of how the programs affected them positively in a personal way.
One can agree or disagree with what these citizens had to say. That's how our society works. But it was heartening to see that these folks had the courage to stand up before their peers and state their views publicly. It was a fine, glorious example of people expressing their hearts and minds.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Feb. 8, 2012
Exploring the dead end (Feb. 1, 2012)
All streets lead somewhere, which is the adventure and attraction of them.
Even "dead ends" lead some place and such an ill named destination could have a fascination all its own if one wants to explore it.
Up until I was 5-years-old, my family lived in a post World War II era house on the end of a "court." (Courts are often referred to as cul-de-sacs nowadays.) The only traffic on the street was generated by the people who lived there, so cars moving about were few and far between.
The court had a short, straight right-of-way that lead to a semi-circular turnaround "court" at the top. From the air the street must look like a keyhole.
When I was five, our small yard, a short sidewalk on a hill beside the house and the court in front of our home were the world as I knew it.
I would wheel out my green tricycle, my prized possession at the time, and whip up and down the sidewalk, all the time narrowly avoiding crashing into the utility pole at the bottom of the hill.
When the the sidewalk, along with its every crack and pockmark, lost its allure, I would turn the tricycle to the court and circle its crumbly pavement along the curb.
Pedaling into the territory of the court it seemed I was miles from home, though the court was probably no more than 30 yards wide.
From my vantage point of the court I could see the neighbors' houses and front yards up close and realize they weren't much different than mine. In 1960 this was a relatively new neighborhood, so most of the yards had silver maple trees, a fast growing tree that could provide shade in the summer and color in the fall in a short number of years. The houses all had big picture windows in the living rooms that were like a big eye looking back at you.
I had only ever been in one of these houses and remember that the people who lived there had small, green turtles as pets. We kids were admonished not to touch the turtles because their shells had salmonella on them and it would make us ill. It sounded dangerous and exotic and made that house seem special. To this day when I see this house I think of the killer turtles.
During the day, most people were at work and the older kids were at school, so the court had a bit of a ghost town feel to it. Signs of people, but no one around. Just their things - a garden rake here, a trash can there, a colorful swing set out back.
There were dogs, though, in the backyards frantically jumping and barking from behind fences or straining at chains by their dog houses as I rode by, no doubt wishing they were as free as me.
Circling around, I would eventually come to the point where the court met the straight right-of-way leading up to it. This seemed like a vast expanse without a curb for the tricycle to hug. I would pedal across as fast as I could, the tricycle's hard rubber solid tires bouncing over cracks and bits of gravel.
Once on the other side, I had a feeling of satisfaction at conquering the space of the court.
I had gone full circle and my reward for the small adventure was in sight - home.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Feb. 1, 2012
The garden of eatin' (Jan. 26, 2012)
Walking around in my backyard this drab, damp January I found myself standing where we once tended a large garden.
The now grass covered spot is slightly lower than the rest of the yard from years of tilling and digging.
It was a bountiful garden in its heyday producing sweet corn, pumpkins, green peppers, carrots, radishes, tomatoes and mint.
We once had two pumpkins that weighed in at more than 100 pounds. We gave up on the radishes because the soil did not suit them and the little devils were not a bit tasty. The fresh sweet corn was always an August treat. I can recall one year the green pepper plants kept producing wonderful peppers deep into November in defiance of the coming winter.
The garden was a lot of work, but the great vegetables it produced was worth it.
But, after a few years, the manner and pace of life changed. The decision was made to abandon the garden. I gave away the roto-tiller, stashed the bunny fences in the basement and sowed grass seed in the garden plot.
Now my memories of the colorful garden brighten this gray winter's day.
Perhaps your thoughts are drifting to seed and soil at this time of year, too. But, maybe your yard isn't suited to having a vegetable garden, or maybe you feel you do not know enough to get started. If so, I recommend you look into participating in the community garden the city of Groveport hopes to have in place for planting in this spring.
Additionally, Joe Stewart, vice chair of the Community Garden Committee, will teach participants the ins and outs of gardening. Topics include: All you need to know about the new Groveport Community Garden, soil preparation, planting orientation, concepts of square foot gardening vs. traditional row planting, buying or starting from seed, early crops, tools, organic fertilization, pest management, weed/composting perennial and annual weeds and more. This class is open to anyone interested in gardening. Groveport residents and non-residents are welcome. Classes will be from 7-8 p.m. on Feb. 23 and March 15 at the Groveport Recreation Center, 7370 Groveport Road. Register at the recreation center. Cost is $5. For information call (614) 836-1000.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Jan. 26, 2012
Fifty years ago (Jan. 17, 2012)
For those of us over age 50, 1962 does not seem like that long ago.
But, then I think back to when I was 20-years-old in 1975. At that age, if I looked back 50 years to 1925, and it would have seemed like ancient history. It's all perspective.
We have a tendency in our daily lives to go along and think things don't change all that much through the years. But they do. It sneaks up on us and when we start remembering we see nothing but changes.
Here's some things I can recall about the area as it was in 1962 and how it's changed in the past 50 years:
•The large North Grain Company building once towered along the railroad tracks in Groveport.
•The high school in Canal Winchester was on Washington Street and they played basketball on the stage in what is now the Oley Speaks Auditorium. It had a great atmosphere.
•Groveport Madison High School was on Main Street in Groveport. (Now the junior high).
•A Madison Township fire station stood on College Street in Groveport. Every day at noon the siren would sound.
•There were gas stations in downtown Canal Winchester and Groveport. From the Groveport Elementary school playground across the street we could hear the "ding-ding" of cars rolling over the hose at the Sunoco station that let the employees there know they had a customer.
•A farm implement business sold Allis-Chalmer tractors at a store at Main Street and Brook Alley in Groveport. I liked to stop and look at the bright orange, brawny tractors as I went to and from school.
•Traffic used to be able to drive over the covered bridge spanning Walnut Creek in Canal Winchester.
•The then brand new Groveport swimming pool was on Hendron Road.
•There were once big trees that formed a leafy canopy over Groveport's Main Street.
•Older folks back then used to refer to Winchester Pike as "Old 33."
•The Canal Winchester Town Hall building was a bank.
•Gender Road was a two lane country road.
•State Route 317 did not exist.
•Freight trains frequently rumbled through Groveport, Canal Winchester and the Madison Township countryside.
•The bridges over the area's creeks were made of steel (or iron) girders. The muscular looking bridges seemed to gracefully leap over the streams.
People and businesses have come and gone. Fields have been developed into neighborhoods and industrial parks. These are just a few of the changes.
What can you recall?
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Jan. 17, 2012
Comment from Kay:I came here with a husband stationed at Lockbourne (now Rickenbacker)to a house on Main St.(Owned by Rohrs) and there was a big two story house near the railroad tracks (made into two apts), bought my groceries at the IGA on Main St., the post office was on College/Cherry, St. Marys church was on Front/Blacklick, Methodist Parsonage was on Front St.,Fire and Police on College. My first invitation to church was the Baptist church on Groveport Rd. but a neighbor later invited me to the Methodist church which I soon joined (having always been a Methodist!) and I'm still there! Great stories Rick.
Madison Township's history (Jan. 12, 2012)
Esau Decker walked to southeastern Franklin County from the Shenandoah Valley in 1805.
Legend has it Decker cut a willow cane in Virginia to use as a walking stick and, that when he arrived on his new Ohio land in what would become Madison Township, he stuck the cane in the ground to mark his property. Decker then returned to Virginia to retrieve his family. The next year the Deckers discovered that the willow cane had taken root and was growing!
For much of its history, Madison Township was known as the "garden spot of Franklin County" because of its fertile agricultural lands. The township is named for James Madison, one of the country's "Founding Fathers" who owned land in the area. Madison Township, when it was first established, was also the largest township in Franklin County by square mileage.
Now more than 200-years-old, the township has not only been a place where crops have grown in abundance, but also where the towns of Canal Winchester and Groveport flourished and where schools and industries blossomed.
You can see photos and artifacts documenting Madison Township's history in an exhibit through Jan. 30 at Groveport Town Hall/Groveport Heritage Museum, 648 Main St. Admission is free. Hours are Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday noon to 6 p.m.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Jan. 12, 2012
Going to London in the days of the old Mid-Eight (Jan. 4, 2012)
News that London and Madison-Plains high schools might soon join the Mid-State League brought back memories for me of when London was a member of the Mid-Eight League from the late 1950s until the league's demise in the early 1970s.
Groveport was a member of the Mid-Eight League during that time. As a former basketball player and a 1974 graduate of Groveport Madison High School, I can remember the trips we made to London for basketball and football games.
The schools in the Mid-Eight were primarily farming communities scattered across Franklin, Madison and Union counties (and even Champaign County in the league's last years). This made for lots of long road trips. It was a good, competitive league, and it seemed like every team match-up was a rivalry.
The long trips from Groveport to London and Marysville were an adventure for me as a kid growing up in the 1960s. To get to London, we piled into the car and wheeled down London-Groveport Road (State Route 665). I can remember thinking that, though the towns were far apart, it was kind of cool they were linked by this old country road in both name and asphalt.
The old London football field, Von Kanel Field, was unlike any other high school football stadium we visited in those years. I can recall walking through an area of silos to reach the field. There was also the railroad tracks that went right by the stadium, and more than once a train would clatter by as a game was being played. During one game, in the late 1960s, I can remember an extra point being kicked through the goal posts, with the football flying over the fence and landing in an open boxcar of a passing train! I'm hoping someone else can remember seeing this.
The coldest I've ever felt in my life was at a football game late in the season at London. (That's saying something because I once worked on a masonry crew outside during the blizzard of 1977.) It was bitterly cold with a pelting rain that night in London. It felt as though my blood was about to freeze solid. On the long ride home I wedged my numb toes into the car heater vent to warm them up. They didn't start to get warm until we got home.
I loved going to the old London High School gym, both as a spectator as an elementary school kid and as a player in my high school years. It had that wonderful feel and energy that old gyms have with the fans in the bleachers seemingly right on top of you. That old gym could get loud as the cheers of the fans reverberated off the nearby walls.
I'm relying on memories that are over 38 years old, so forgive me if my recollections of this great old gym are a little foggy. I can recall an elegant, auditorium stage at one end of the gym and a small section of tiered, theater-like seating surrounded by railings at the opposite end of the gym. I thought this was so classy. I seem to remember windows high on the walls that let in natural light. Best of all, the basketball floor was made of rich, old wood that felt good under my feet and gave a true bounce to the ball.
Today the schools, stadiums and gyms are bigger with all the modern amenities. I'm sure today's students will have their own fond memories of these places once they hit middle age.
The old gyms and football fields may have been small, but they had a majesty and intimacy all their own.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Jan. 4, 2012
Two wheeled freedom (Dec. 27, 2011)
A bicycle meant freedom to a 10-year-old growing up in Groveport in the 1960s.
Once you had those two wheels under you, every street, alley, dirt path and open lot was yours to explore.
Nearly every kid had some kind of bike back then, but it was rare anyone ever had a new bicycle because bikes were an expensive luxury. Most of the kids had old hand-me-down bikes or bikes built out of a conglomeration of the spare parts of several other bikes. No one complained because all that mattered was that you had a bike.
I had a hand-me-down. It was my aunt's old 1950s blue Schwinn. It had a big, heavy frame and fat wheels. It had a seat that would often flip out of place when you hit a bump.
I, and the neighborhood kids, called my bike "The Camel" because of the way the seat stuck up like a hump. I didn't care that it was a "girl's bike" because it was better than no bike at all. It also had a lot of pluses. Another kid could easily ride as a passenger on the broad, thick handlebars. I could wedge my basketball into the dip in the frame in front of the seat so I didn't have to carry the ball when I rode to the basketball courts. The fat wheels shrugged off broken glass and could take a pounding going over curbs and splashing through muddy potholes.
Many of the town kids rode their bikes to elementary school no matter the weather - hot or cold; dry or wet. When it snowed you could see the meandering bike tracks left in the snow where the pedalers slipped and plowed through the mush.
We'd park our bikes in the metal racks behind Groveport Elementary (unlocked because no one even thought about someone stealing a bike from the racks, it just was not done). What a hodgepodge of bikes they were, too: banana bikes, ancient bikes, piecemeal bikes, rusty bikes, bikes with wobbly wheels, bikes with out of line handlebars, bikes with bald tires, bikes with no fenders and the occasional shiny new bike.
After school the Safety Patrol and teachers made you walk your bike off the school grounds. Once you were an inch off the school property you hopped on the bike and took off as fast as you could to put the rules of school behind you for the day. Sometimes a kid would break away from the sidewalk leading from the school and barrel down across the playground to Wirt Road on his bike to escape the rule enforcing authorities.
Two wheels and the road. Freedom.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Dec. 27, 2011
How our farming ancestors put meat on the table(Dec. 14, 2011)
When winter arrived for Ohio farm families in the 1880s, they knew it was time to lay in their store of meat for the coming year. However, they did not go to the supermarket like we do today.
On Dec. 10-11, the staff and volunteers at Metro Parks' Slate Run Living Historical Farm, located at 1375 State Route 674 N. near Canal Winchester, gave a demonstration of how 19th century farm families obtained their meat by using their butchering skills on their raised livestock.
Because they did not have refrigerators or freezers, pioneer farm families did their meat butchering during the cold of winter to help reduce the risk of spoilage.
Slate Run Living Historical Farm workers and volunteers carefully prepared a Poland China hog raised on the farm for butchering. Poland China hogs are a breed that was developed in southwestern Ohio in the 1800s. The breed is known for its fast growth and its extra fat, which could be used for lard, according to information provided by Slate Run Living Historical Farm.
After the hog was killed in a quick and humane manner out of public view, the carcass was scalded with hot water and scraped to remove the hair. The carcass was allowed to cool overnight in the chilled air of winter and then hung in a shed near the farmhouse to be gutted.
As a crowd of visitors looked upon this scene of the cycle of life on this cold, but sunny, December day, the workers methodically sliced open the carcass and removed the organs.
According to information provided by Slate Run Living Historical Farm, the highly perishable parts, such as the liver and kidneys would be cooked and eaten while fresh.
"We'll use this in sausage," said Slate Run Living Historical Farm worker Mike Huels as he cleaned the hog heart.
Huels said the organs are examined for a rich color and texture to make sure they would be good for eating.
"Livers from older animals often aren't as good," said Huels.
The workers next cut the carcass into hams, chops, bacon, jowls, hocks and shoulders.
"When you're eating meat, you're primarily eating muscle," one of the workers told the crowd.
Once removed, the meat is then salted in brine for two months to cure and preserve it and then smoked in the smokehouse for one week. The smoke - generated from hardwoods like hickory, oak, maple and apple trees - dries, flavors and preserves the meat. Meat prepared properly in this manner would then be wrapped and could be stored for months without refrigeration.
Additionally, pork chops and sausage were packed in crocks and covered with lard to help preserve them.
Nothing was wasted as the lard from the hog was collected to be used as cooking oil, in soap making and for lubrication. Other parts of the hog were salvaged to make pickled pig's feet and head cheese.
The demonstration showed how the cycle of life plays out on the farm and how families and farm communities combined their efforts to ensure their survival.
For information about Slate Run Living Historical Farm, call (614) 833-1880 or visit www.metroparks.net.
Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Dec. 14, 2011
Comment from Kay: This blog sure brought back some memories! A few months after I married at age 19 - my husband's family butchered a hog. I grew up in the country but had never witnessed such an event. It went exactly as you described and my wonderful mother-in-law (now aged 99!!)canned sausage and bacon (seems like something else that I can't remember). Thanks for the memories.
The Groveport home front during World War II (Dec. 7, 2011)
Today is the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, which led to America's entry in to World War II.
The anniversary of Pearl Harbor prompted me to take a look back at some of the ways the residents of Groveport helped out on the home front during the war.
Residents willingly followed the war time rules regarding the rationing of sugar, gasoline and rubber to support the war effort.
Early in 1942, Groveport Village Council enacted rules for periodic blackout and air raid drills.
Women who completed a Red Cross training course in first aid formed an "emergency unit" in town and established a station in the basement of the Methodist Church.
In 1942, the Groveport Lions Club served 43 soldiers, who were stationed at nearby Lockbourne Air Base, a chicken dinner at Groveport Town Hall.
A sale of war bonds at a Groveport Madison High School football game in 1943 raised $3,050 for the war effort.
These are just a few of the efforts that took place in town throughout the long years of the war. They are actions that show a community pulling together for the common good during a time of sacrifice.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Dec. 7, 2011
The people's building (Nov. 30, 2011)
By the mid-to-late 19th century, small towns in Ohio were blossoming and eager to show the rest of the world that they were vibrant, successful, growing places.
One way for these towns to accomplish this in a big way was to build a large public hall downtown that included an auditorium, offices, meeting rooms and often some rented retail space to help pay for the building.
These public halls embodied several facets of community life all in one structure by creating a venue for cultural activities like concerts, lectures, and plays; public meeting rooms for political debates; business space; and government offices. Prior to the existence of these public halls, only the town's churches, which tended to be small, provided a gathering space for people. The public halls provided a place where everyone could meet and share in the community experience.
The structures can be considered the first modern public buildings most towns built as the builders used the state of the art construction ideas and materials of the late 19th century. The buildings were designed with the forward thinking mindset that the halls would be used for their intended purposes for decades to come.
Drive around Ohio today and you'll see many of these buildings still standing and in full use. The brick halls often look similar because they incorporated the most popular architectural design of the era - High Victorian Italianate. It's a design that is elegant, yet simple in its look.
Groveport Town Hall is an example of such a hall. Built for a little less than $11,000 in 1876, the building is still being used today in much the same manner as it was more than a century ago as it provides a home for concerts, plays, an art gallery and museum, government offices, and public meeting rooms for both social and civic gatherings.
Take some time to wander through Groveport Town Hall and enjoy its architecture and its offerings.
Remember, it's the people's building.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Nov. 30, 2011
Ligntning flash (Nov. 23, 2011)
It was a lightning flash and thunderclap unlike any I'd ever seen and heard before.
Early Tuesday morning, while driving to work along I-270 on the south end during a downpour, a ball of white light flashed quickly in the murky northwestern sky. It was so bright that it made the morning darkness seem bathed in daylight for an instant.
Unlike the crooked, elongated lightning bolts that stretch across the sky that I've seen all my life, this one was shaped like a ball. It seemed like a bomb exploded when it unleashed its power.
The sharp thunderclap that followed, and it came swiftly after the flash, was so loud and forceful that it shook the car and made the radio temporarily fuzz out.
It was one of those take your breath away moments when one realizes all our words and deeds mean nothing when compared to the forces of nature.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Nov. 23, 2011
Groveport's first election (Nov. 16, 2011)
The recent election got me to thinking about the first official election in the town of Groveport.
That election took place April 17, 1847 with 62 men (only adult men could vote in those days) casting votes.
Groveport officially incorporated as a village in March, 1847. Prior to that it existed as two smaller towns - Wert's Grove and Rarey's Port - situated side-by-side separated only by what is now College Street. Those two unincorporated towns were loosely organized and did not hold elections.
Once the two towns combined under the name of Groveport in 1847, it was time to hold official elections.
It's interesting that William Rarey and Jacob Wert - the founders of Rarey's Port and Wert's Grove - were not candidates for elected office in the new town. Speculation is that the citizenry of the time had tired of the ongoing conflict between the two men over who had established the most prominent town. Citizens put a stop to the conflict and confusion when they combined the town under one name and selected different people to run things.
Abraham Shoemaker was elected the first mayor of Groveport. Dr. Abel Clark, who came up with the name "Groveport," was elected town clerk. The first village council members were J. P. Bywaters, E. M. Dutton, William Mitchell, Samuel Sharpe and C. J. Stevenson. The first council meeting was held April 29, 1847 in Shoemaker's fine brick home on Cherry Street as the town did not yet have a municipal building and Groveport Town Hall would not be built until 1876.
The ordinances approved at that first council meeting included: making it illegal to block or obstruct any street or alley; requiring people owning property on Main Street to build gravel sidewalks along the street; making it illegal to race horses, fight, brawl, quarrel, shoot guns or pistols, or otherwise disturb the peace within village limits; and appointing a marshal.
The structure of the town government was different in those days. Elected officials served two year terms. Today they serve for four years. Council was made up of only five members back then while nowadays council has six members.
The council meeting minutes from those early days were handwritten in flowing script in large books, which are still on file in the municipal building. These old books are portals in time that provide insight into the decision making of the town's past leaders.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Nov. 16, 2011
The old time economy (Nov. 9, 2011)
Upon looking at a listing of occupations of people living in the 19th century in Groveport and Canal Winchester, I was struck by the variety of jobs as well as how each of these towns, made up of a few hundred people, provided enough customers for folks to make a living.
There were cigar makers, cobblers, grocers, dry goods clerks, blacksmiths, canal boat builders, grain elevator operators, millers, warehouses, slaughterhouse workers, saloonkeepers, school teachers, tailors, restaurant operators, druggists, stable hands, hardware and farm implement dealers, newspaper publishers, bakers, bricklayers, undertakers, bankers, barbers and many more working in the two towns.
The customer base consisted of people living in Groveport and Canal Winchester and the farmers in the surrounding Madison Township area. The population steadily grew in the 19th century, but still, it was not a lot of people.
So how did this relatively small group of people support such a varied local economy?
People most likely lived more simply and purchased and used what they needed with only an occasional extravagance. The businesses filled this practical need.
Also, people did not often travel to distant places. Going to Columbus was a long journey at the time by horse and wagon over rough roads. They stuck closer to home and were more likely to buy things from their local businesses.
Another thing to consider is that the community was small enough that most everyone knew each other. They were comfortable doing business with their friends and neighbors.
I think in these modern times we can learn from our ancestors' example. Instead of driving miles and miles away to shop or purchase services, consider stopping by the local store or using the local tradesman. Even if it costs a little more at times, such an approach would serve to further strengthen community bonds and bolster the local economy.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Nov. 9, 2011
The last days of the canal (Nov. 3, 2011)
The opening of the Ohio and Erie Canal in Rarey's Port and Wert's Grove in 1831 was greeted with great fanfare and the knowledge the manmade waterway would make the area prosper.
The canal did its job as the two little side-by-side towns eventually grew and merged into Groveport in 1847. Business thrived along the canal and the population steadily increased. The canal was the town's lifeline.
However, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the railroad and improved roads siphoned commerce away from the canal. As boat traffic diminished, the old waterway slipped into disrepair and became an afterthought.
By the 1890s only the brickyard on the south edge of town regularly shipped products on the canal freight boats. By that time, canal boatmen had to contend with channels clogged with sand bars and towpaths overgrown with weeds and brush.
Not only the canal channel suffered from a lack of maintenance. The iron turn bridge on Main Street spanning the canal became unbalanced, due to years of wear and tear, making it necessary for five or six men (normally it was a one man job) to turn the bridge to allow boats to pass.
Nearly 100 years ago, the now defunct "Ohio State Journal" newspaper reported this account of one of the last canal boat trips out of Groveport: Boat Captain Cal "Red Oak" Claffey, with crew members Ed "Canary" Andrews and Charles Lytle, embarked with a shipment of bricks from the brickyard in Groveport and headed south to Yellow Bud. Sand bars plagued the crew and they had to frequently break out the block-and-tackle to move the boat along with the aid of their straining tow horses. The round trip took five and a half days, nearly twice as long as it took when the canal was in good repair in its heyday. When they returned to Groveport, Claffey tied the boat to the dock and never took it out again.
The canal boat trade in town ceased in the early 1900s and by then people primarily used its waters for fishing and ice skating. A makeshift foot bridge was built between Walnut and Oak streets. In the years prior to World War I the canal was drained and parts of its channel became a dumping ground for trash.
You can still see parts of the canal in Groveport, particularly in the city's Blacklick Park and at the preserved canal lock #22, where the channel is in good shape and well defined on the landscape. Stop by and look into the past.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Nov. 3, 2011
Shadow train(a Halloween story) (Oct. 26, 2011)
He began to hear the forlorn sound once autumn gathered and early dusk draped the landscape.
It was the distant rumbling of a train coming through the small midwest town, a sound familiar, yet different. Along with it came the notes of a train whistle, not the modern tone of a diesel train horn, but the warm, wet sound of a steam locomotive.
These sounds were faint at first, but as October grew old and the jack-o'-lanterns grimaced in the night, the train's music became clearer and distinct.
He wanted to see this train. One night when he heard the sound of the train approaching he walked through the quiet neighborhoods to the railroad tracks at the north edge of town. No one else was about. No one seemed curious about the train.
At the tracks, he scuffed the rocks with his feet near where the now demolished railroad depot once stood and looked to the east for the train. Soon the soft glow of the locomotive's headlamp formed through the darkness and the whistle gave a short burst. He could see the train begin to take a billowy shape in the shadows. Steam released from the locomotive and as the train slowed - with its coal car, passenger car, and caboose in tow - it became fully formed before him.
As the train stopped, the rocks beneath his feet became the paved bricks of a railroad platform. He turned around to see the long gone depot now standing behind him. A lone coal oil lamp flickered in the depot window, lit by an unseen hand.
He looked around in the night. The grain elevators and mills that had been torn down stood tall again. The old brick warehouse across the tracks loomed with its windows intact and its signage freshly painted. He looked at his hands and saw they were the hands he knew as a young man, without scars and with fingers straight and unbroken by accidents yet to come. All that was old seemed new again.
He breathed deeply and the air filling his lungs was fresh and cool. He looked back to the train. The locomotive puffed. A bell clanged. Faintly came the call from an unseen mouth of, "All aboard!" A door creaked open on the passenger car.
He walked to the car, paused to look at the beckoning rails, and stepped in. The train began to roll slowly to the west, becoming a wispy shadow before it disappeared in the darkness.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Oct. 26, 2011
Remembering the Elmont Hotel (Oct. 19, 2011)
A grand structure once graced Groveport's Main Street for nearly 90 years where Groveport Madison Junior High now stands.
Known for most of its life as the Elmont Hotel, the 25 room Renaissance Revival mansion was originally called Cedarlawn because of the large cedar trees in its yard. Built in 1862 by renowned horse trainer John S. Rarey at a cost of $23,000, it was home to Rarey and his famous horse Cruiser.
In the early 20th century Cedarlawn became the Elmont Hotel. The elegant building featured black marble mantel pieces, a handsome dining room and a large ballroom with a cherry wood floor that was kept smooth by sanding it with finely ground glass.
The Elmont was a social showplace as it hosted weddings, formal dinners and dances. Fraternities and sororities from The Ohio State University and Capital University often held dances there with students arriving in Groveport on special interurban traction line charters.
Situated on the grounds around the Elmont were several small cottages visitors from Columbus rented in the hot Ohio summers to escape the heat of the city. When the Elmont was torn down, many of these cottages were moved to other parts of town and still stand today as private residences.
By the late 1940s the grand old hotel began to deteriorate. Its owner found it more and more costly to maintain.
Around that time the Groveport Madison school district's student population was growing and school officials were looking for a site to build a new school. The Elmont sat beside Groveport School (now Groveport Elementary), on a site that was a convenient and logical spot for a new school. By building the school there, the elementary and high school students could share a common cafeteria and gymnasium as well as outdoor athletic and playground facilities. The new building also alleviated the crowding at Groveport School, which housed all 12 grades at the time.
The school district bought the 8.33 acre Elmont property for $21,000, tore it down and erected what was then Groveport Madison High School.
No organized effort arose to save the building. Prior to its demolition in 1950, Groveport Madison students toured the historic building to get a last look at the once fabulous mansion that was home to John S. Rarey.
The building, which was rich in Groveport history and had been the site of much social and community activity in town, is now just a memory.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Oct. 19, 2011
Autumn almanac (Oct. 12, 2011)
Thoughts of autumn:
•As I drove to work on a recent morning, a yellow full moon hung low in the western sky. Wispy clouds and a silhouette of bare tree branches crossed its face. As I crossed the bridge over Big Walnut Creek, I thought of the "Headless Horseman" and glanced in the rear view mirror to make sure the literary phantom was not riding up from behind about to hurl his head at me.
•My favorite type of pumpkin is the kind that is the shape and size of a basketball.
•I used to grow pumpkins and one year, out of the blue, my patch produced a massive pumpkin that weighed in at well over 100 pounds. I made a monstrous jack-o-lantern out of it. When cutting the face I found that the pumpkin's hull was several inches thick. I carved an appropriate scowl (I believe jack-o-lanterns should have frightening faces) into its hull and rolled it onto the front porch. It was a mighty pumpkin. It took weeks and weeks for it to decompose.
•I don't like how baseball has playoffs that go on and on into November. It makes no sense for a warm weather sport to pretend it is suited to the cold and gray. I prefer the days when the World Series was played in the golden warmth of early October afternoons.
•All Halloween costumes should be scary. I mean, we're trying to scare off demons here people!
•I like how the goldenrod in the fields is the same yellow color as the pages in the old writing tablets I used in elementary school.
•I miss burning the piles of fallen leaves. I don't have much of a sense of smell, so it's not the aroma of burning leaves I miss. What I liked was the communal aspect of neighbors leaning on their rakes and talking while standing around a slowly burning pile of leaves, watching as the embers of leaves illuminated a cool evening as the sun set.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Oct. 12, 2011
Wet or dry in Groveport (Oct. 5, 2011)
The PBS television documentary, "Prohibition," by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, explores how and why America instituted the prohibition of alcohol for a time in the early 20th century. It also chronicles why the effort failed.
The battle between the "wet" (pro-alcohol) and "dry" (anti-alcohol) forces was a national societal confrontation, but it also played out locally in Groveport in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Alcohol was a strong presence on the Ohio frontier. Early in the 19th century excess grain that could not be shipped to markets due to poor transportation systems was converted to whiskey and sold locally. Liquor was thought by some to have medicinal properties that fended off chills and eased aches.
Reformers were quick to point out the ill effects of alcohol on health and the public order. By the mid-19th century these reformers organized into social and political groups, such as the Women's Christian Temperance Union, the Sons of Temperance and the Anti-Saloon League. These groups aggressively sought to outlaw the sale of alcohol.
From 1850 to 1910 temperance advocates petitioned Groveport village council to ban or regulate alcohol sales in town nearly a dozen times. Not an easy task in a rough and ready canal town like Groveport, a place where you could dock your canal boat and walk up a plank to the nearest saloon without even touching the ground.
The dry coalition succeeded often in banning alcohol, but then the wet faction fought back and within a short period of time the alcohol prohibition ordinance would be repealed.
The most notable wet/dry conflict occurred in 1895. In February of that year, Reverend Prior presented a petition signed by 92 male citizens to council requesting the prohibition of alcohol. A friendly council unanimously placed the liquor option on the April ballot. Temperance workers campaigned heavily for dry council candidates and the liquor prohibition. The week before the election they held five meetings in Groveport Town Hall inviting ministers from throughout Franklin County to speak in their favor.
The liquor option prohibiting alcohol passed 178-84 and a dry council was elected. It was said the village had gone "dry with a vengeance."
A week later closing notices were posted on Bornstine's Saloon and Miller's Saloon. However, saloonkeeper Milton Miller defied the ordinance and continued operating. The village fined Miller three times, a total of $360. A hefty sum in those days.
By the fall of 1895 the wet forces regrouped and presented a petition signed by 100 male citizens requesting a repeal of the alcohol prohibition. The dry council rejected it.
Miller then sued the village. Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Badger found the village's alcohol prohibition law illegal on technicalities and overturned it. It was reported Badger smiled when delivering his decision.
The village government vowed to fight all the way to the Supreme Court, but its passion for prohibition waned as legal fees mounted.
Miller won his case and the alcohol continued to flow. Groveport citizens elected a wet council at the next election.
Temperance forces seemingly had the last word when national prohibition arrived in the 1920s, but that, too, would not last.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Oct. 5, 2011
Apple Butter Day is different (Sept. 28, 2011)
The people of small towns love their local festivals. They bring a sense of identity and sense of place to a community.
Apple Butter Day (to be held Oct. 8 in Groveport) does this, but I think it is also different from other small town festivals because:
•It has the feel of an informal backyard party. In essence, it really is a celebration that takes place in the "backyard" in and around the 1815 era log house in Heritage Park. Backyard parties are gatherings of friends who freely wander in and out of the house and around the grounds while hanging out together. It's comfortable. That's what happens on Apple Butter Day.
•It's ageless. All age groups like Apple Butter Day, from kids to senior citizens. There's something there for everyone.
•It appreciates history and links the present to the past. The festival's setting in Heritage Park physically makes a historical connection with the log house and the neighboring Groveport Cemetery. Our ancestors are in the cemetery and it feels like their spirits are there with us during Apple Butter Day. Also, the historical demonstrations and re-enactors help to make the past tangible to us.
•It's not overly commercial. Sure, people sell things at the festival, but there is no overt advertising. The items and food sold there tend to fit the historical theme and spirit of the event.
•Apple Butter Day lasts for only 8 hours, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. This small window of time makes us appreciate what the festival has to offer. Less is always more in life.
•It's not garish and loud. Instead, Apple Butter Day is peaceful and plain. It's humble. It's ours.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Sept. 28, 2011
Pedal to the past (Sept. 21, 2011)
Three Creeks Metro Park's new 878-foot long, 20-foot high Blacklick Trail bridge spanning U.S. Route 33 not only connects the trail to Pickerington Ponds Metro Park, it also is a connection for my family's past.
I want to explore the trail north of U.S. 33 for a couple of reasons. First, it's a trail I've not been on before so all the natural views and perspectives from its route along Blacklick Creek will be a fresh sight. But mainly I'm excited to ride the trail because part of it winds through an area that was once my family's ancestral farm lands along Shannon Road.
In the 19th century, my great-great grandfather, Tillman Palsgrove, married Sarah Whims, whose family had farmed the land a long while. The land was passed down to Sarah and her family and Palsgroves lived on and farmed the property for many years.
I have not been able to wander around back in the old farm fields since I was a kid. I'm eager to look at those fields again and see what memories are triggered. Plus, there's an old rural graveyard with some family connections tucked away back in those fields along the creek and it would be nice to see it if it is accessible from the trail. It may not be, but it would be a pleasant personal connection for me even if I could only see the cemetery from a distance.
Granted, much of the area nearby is developed with apartments, condos and homes. But large parts are still open and reflect what the area was like when it was mostly farm land.
So, once the bridge is opened later this month, I'm hopping on my bike to pedal to the past.
(Side note: Metro Parks' "First Over the Bridge" bike, jog or walk event begins at 6 a.m. on Oct. 1 at the Confluence Area at Three Creeks Metro Park, 3860 Bixby Road, Groveport. Participants will walk or ride the three miles to the bridge beginning at 6:30 a.m. and are welcome to continue on an additional 6 miles to Pickerington Ponds Metro Park.)
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Sept. 21, 2011
The "grandpa box" (Sept. 14, 2011)
A friend of mine and I do not play video games. Never have. Nothing against the games, and I'm glad other people can enjoy them, but there just was never a desire on our parts to fiddle with them.
We also both still have big old desktop computers, which were described in a recent "Dilbert" comic strip as "grandpa boxes" because these once ever present electronic wonders are being quickly replaced by smaller, sleeker and faster computer devices.
With all this in mind, my friend shared the following story with me (via email of course because who talks on the telephone much these days?):
"Hey Rick, I'm a gamer! Yes, it's true. When I turned on the 'grandpa box' this morning, there was a small spider on the screen. I moved my pointer (cursor) near it and the spider responded to the movement. I found the spider would follow the pointer at a safe distance. It also went faster up the screen than down. So now I've played a computer game!"
Only he and I would find this interplay with a spider on a computer screen more interesting than a fast moving colorful computer game.
His email got me to thinking about my several years old, close to technologically prehistoric Apple eMac desktop computer. When I bought it, the machine was top of the line with its power and abilities, cutting edge in its visual design and ready to take on the cyberworld. Now it's a grandpa box that cannot keep up with the pace of change. Once sleek, it is now thought of as clunky, somewhat like its brethren the old boxy television that is now being pushed aside by flat screen televisions.
The progression of computer technological innovation will only grow faster. The swiftness of my eMac's obsolescence is staggering.
It's odd to think of this 21st century machine as already nearing antique status. What's stranger is that, unlike other old devices from the past that we might hold onto for sentimental reasons or because they can still usefully function, these old grandpa boxes are neither cherished nor of any use once they've been passed by.
So they are easily cast aside. Though we are often in contact with them via the keyboard, there is still an emotional detachment from these computers. The desktop computer's cold and robotic presence is difficult for one to warm up to, unlike the newer hand held computer devices that appear more personal.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Sept. 14, 2011
Find the connecting sound (Sept. 7, 2011)
It was a quiet Sunday morning, like most such mornings are in my hometown of Groveport.
I sat on my front steps, listened to the relative stillness and began to wonder if there are any sounds that can be heard in town today that are the same exact sounds heard by people who lived in Groveport more than a century ago.
This became a much more difficult exercise than I expected. Our modern sounds of cars, power lawn mowers, weed whackers, other power tools and the like did not exist back then. The old sounds of horses' hooves clip-clopping down the street, the blacksmith hammering away, and the thud of bricks from the brickyard being loaded onto wooden canal boats are no longer heard. The creaking of the old buggy is gone, replaced by the slamming of a car door.
Trains still roll through town, but the sound of an old steam locomotive and its whistle is different than the sound of today's diesel trains and their horns. People's voices are distinctly unique and those of the long past are now silent. Dogs still bark, but they are not the same dogs who once roved the town and each dog has its own bark, so each "arf" is different. Even the sound of the wind and rain is special to each day, each storm, so they are not the exact sound that I could share in hearing with Groveport residents of so long ago.
By using most of our senses, we have many links to the past through old structures we can see and touch, in the written record, in photos and drawings, and, most poignantly, in the cemetery. I wondered, could it be is there no audible connection to the people who lived here so long ago? Is there no sound that they once heard that we can still hear today?
Then I heard it. The same exact sound our ancestors heard those many years past. A sound we can still share with them today. A rich, clear, distinct sound floating through the air and through time with its own simple music - the church bells, the ringing sound of the old church bells from down the street.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Sept. 7, 2011
Comment from Kay: What a special ending to this story. Though I've only been here in town for fifty years - its nice to think about my church (the Methodist on Main St.) ringing its bells way back then. Nice story.
Narcissism is not new (Aug. 31, 2011)
The older generation complaining about the youth of today isn't anything new. Such complaints have been around since the ancient time of the Greek philosopher Socrates, who is purported to have said the youth of his day thought only of themselves, were disrespectful, lazy and tyrannical.
That's what parents would often say about Baby Boomers and that's what the Boomers in turn say about their kids.
The accusing term of "narcissist" is frequently hurled at the young, maybe because it is rooted in youth. Narcissus, according to Greek mythology, was a youth who, having spurned the love of Echo, pined away in love for his own image reflected in a pool of water and was eventually transformed into the flower of the same name.
I think both the Baby Boomer generation and the younger generation of today are capable of an immense amount of navel gazing, they just go about it in different ways.
Boomers, by their sheer massive population numbers, have a collective narcissism expressed potently in mass marketing geared to their wants, mass politics reflecting their issues and mass consumerism driving the economy.
What the Boomers wanted, they got as they moved along in the world like a population form of "The Blob" absorbing everything in their path. Most visibly, mass culture both defined and reflected the Boomers who have the shared experiences of television programs shown on a limited number of stations, record albums, books, movies and fashion.
Boomers were raised in a post World War II era of prosperity, hope and with the thought they could do and be anything they wanted. All this was eased along by the Boomers' Great Depression era parents who wanted their kids to avoid the hardships they had faced.
The youth of today have more of an individual narcissism. Instead of a bulge in the population, their numbers are more spread out so they do not have the mass to pound away at the culture.
Their individual narcissism is expressed in social media like Facebook, texting and other computer technology. They are prone to openly sharing more private details of their lives in an attempt to be heard as an independent person among the din of the modern world. They seek a culture tailored to them specifically, not to a mass. They achieve this by downloading specific songs rather than albums, having seemingly unlimited television options, not settling for allowing long term jobs define them and demanding that consumer marketing be tailored more to individual needs.
Their individual narcissism is then fed further by Boomer parents imparting an expanded self-esteem to the youth in hopes of making the young feel special in a sea of people.
While the Boomers coalesce around their collective narcissism, the young scatter in their individual narcissism. But both have the same aim that the different forms of narcissism help them to achieve. They all want to be heard and seen in a world where the culture, technology and business move so swiftly that a person can become invisible in the wake of it all.
All anyone really wants is for someone to hear them say, "Here I am. I matter. Don't forget me. Don't discount me."
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Aug. 31 2011
The speed of time (Aug. 24, 2011)
Recently on a fine August morning my dad and I sat on my front porch and we both noted that, "Summer seems to go by more quickly every year."
Time exists, but it is a fluid existence we artificially try to bind with man made imposed measurements to help us wrap our minds around the concept.
Even with these rigidly defined boundaries, the essence of time eludes us. Our exacting measurements are defied by time's relentless ever moving continuity coupled with our varying perceptions of traveling through life at the speed of time.
The accepted notion is that, the older one gets, the faster time seems to flow by. The older we are, the more aware we become of the proportion of the years to the overall perspective of time.
That holds true in most cases. But, as kids, a week can seem like a year to us because, in proportion to the relatively brief time we have been on earth, it seems like a long time. But it's all perception. Even as kids, time can seem to go fast or slow depending on the situation. The weeks prior to Christmas can seem to take forever to a kid, yet the three months of summer vacation from school fly swiftly by.
I would guess high school graduation is when we really began to grasp the rapid passing of time in relation to our lives. The perspective jumps on you as that formal moment, that rite of passage, officially declares you an adult whether you are ready or not. You wonder, where did those first 18 years of life go? You stand there holding your diploma and suddenly feel like an old timer in your still young body. You simultaneously must process the excitement of a promising future with the melancholy recognition that your youth has melded with the past.
The past is fleeting, but it exists in memory. The future is unknown and may never come. The present is the time that matters most. It need not be measured, only lived.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Aug. 24, 2011
A store not just for sick people (Aug. 17, 2011)
"The drug store is no longer merely a sick person's store..."
So read a century old ad I came across for the drug store operated by W. R. Smith in downtown Groveport in the early 20th century.
While boasting the establishment carried a "complete line of drugs and medicines," the ad also mentions the store's soda fountain that stocked "...the purest fruit juices and crushed fruits obtainable. You may find fountains offering greater variety but none that serve better sodas or sundaes."
This being August, as back-to-school time is fast approaching with its many and varied modern supply demands on today's kids, it was interesting to note that Smith's store stocked "tablets, pencils, inks, pens, slates, and erasers" for students in those days.
Additionally the store offered domestic and imported cigars; post cards with "local views, comics, etc." ranging from 1 to 50 cents in price; popular periodicals; toiletries; and "the finest assortment of candy ever offered in Groveport," a box of which could cost from 5 cents to $1.50.
If one had a telephone and wished to call Smith with a question or a special order, the drug store's phone number was "89."
A drug store was first established on Main Street in downtown Groveport in 1876 by John and Frank Rarey. Through the years the ownership passed to Lew Eyman, W.R. Smith, Bob Terry, J.R. Moore, K.H. Ackerman, and finally in 1967 to John Hougland. Hougland would eventually move the store to west Main Street in 1978 where it remained until he retired a few years ago.
One of the nice historical touches Hougland retained during his time of owning the drug store was the old scale where you could weigh yourself for a penny. Each time I went to the store I would step on the scale and drop a penny in its slot. I could hear the coin clink and clank as it tumbled through the machine, it's movement ratcheting the arrow pointer across the numbers on the machine's face so I could get my weight. I liked the scale's simple, mechanical, low tech nature and that, spending a mere penny, connected me to those who had stood on the scale, too, all those many years ago.
Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Aug. 17, 2011
Door-to-door (Aug. 10, 2011)
I, like many of you, use the modern wonder of "Caller ID" to screen unwanted telephone solicitation calls.
This works well to avoid hearing rehearsed sales pitches from an unfortunate soul who is working in a call center. I can sympathize with these workers because it's not a job I'd want to do. But sympathy is one thing and maintaining my peace is another so their calls go unanswered.
However, a wrinkle to my avoidance method has arisen. Lately I've noticed an increase in people coming to my door peddling products and services that are normally pushed by phone solicitations. Apparently, since I've denied them access by phone, they are taking a direct personal approach.
The salesmen and saleswomen who appear on my doorstep are usually clean cut, earnest and smiling young people dressed in colorful company shirts and sporting official looking ID cards.
I've noticed that when these sales folk talk to you in person they make more of an attempt to connect personally. They may remark about the flowers in the yard or talk about how the neighborhood is a nice place.
Though I've always turned down their offers as they stood on my front porch, I kind of admire them for undertaking the old fashioned, in person, door-to-door sales approach. It's one thing to get turned down by an anonymous person over the phone and quite another to be rejected in person. To handle that takes some fortitude.
But I would guess they have more success in these door-to-door visits than over the phone because people generally respond better to a smiling face than to a telephone receiver.
In these mechanized times, a personal connection can mean a lot - be it in business or in making friends.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Aug. 10, 2011
Pelotonia is back (Aug. 3, 2011)
On the morning of Aug. 20, thousands of bicyclists will wheel through downtown Groveport as part of the Pelotonia cycling tour.
Pelotonia is a grassroots bicycle tour that raises money to help fight cancer. Cyclists choose one of four rides: 23 miles from Columbus to Groveport; 43 miles from Columbus to Amanda; 102 miles from Columbus to Athens; or 180 miles from Columbus to Athens to Canal Winchester.
Last year people lined Groveport's Main Street in the historic downtown holding banners and shouting words of encouragement to the cyclists as they rode through town. The support is appreciated by the cyclists who ride for long stretches of open countryside along the Pelotonia route where they see no spectators for moral support.
Last year, I heard one cyclist call out to the Groveport crowd, "This is the best town on the whole route." Another rider told the Groveport spectators, "I love your town! It's so pretty!"
The mass of cyclists whirring through town is a sight to see. Some riders wear brightly colored shirts. Some ride as a team. Others ride alone but often tend to bunch up with those pedaling at the same speed. Some have the names of loved ones written on their arms. There's a variety of bicycles to see ranging from racing bicycles to touring bikes to recumbents to tandems. The riders include both men and women of all ages and even a few youths.
They ride for fun. They ride for health. But, most of all, they ride to fight cancer so others may live full lives.
So, if you have a few minutes on the morning of Saturday, Aug. 20, wander over to Groveport's Main Street, or elsewhere along the route, and share a few words of encouragement to the cyclists as they pass by.
For information on Pelotonia, visit pelotonia.org.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Aug. 3, 2011
A visit to Walnut Woods (July 27, 2011)
Recently, on a sunny summer day, I got my first look at the newly opened Tall Pines Area of Walnut Woods Metro Park.
The Tall Pines Area, located at 6833 Richardson Road (west side of the road), Groveport, is the first section of the new park to open. (Official opening dates for the remaining two sections of Walnut Woods - a 90 acre area east of Lithopolis Road and a 478 acre central portion located between Lithopolis and Richardson roads - have not yet been announced.)
I was the lone visitor in the new park at that time of day and the first sensation I noticed was how quiet it was with only the sounds of the birds and a breeze ruffling the trees.
The park is a mixture of woodlands, meadows and small marshy areas. Some of the meadow areas have the feel and look of an old farm pasture that has gone back to the wild.
The conversion of former farm pastures is not the only reclamation taking place in the land of park.
Walking along the path I came upon a tree that was enveloping an old, abandoned utility pole. The pole at one time brought either electricity or a phone line to a now long gone farm house. The trunk of the tree has grown around the utility pole so only the upper portion of the pole is visible, sticking out like a vertical branch from the tree.
A little farther along the path I came upon the gray/white ghost of an old silo rising from the greenery. Though the farm is gone, the silo did not look out of place.
In some of the wooded areas of the park, the tall trees are growing in rows, a result of the days when this land was once a nursery for growing trees.
I like that this new park embraces the various aspects of what the land has been before. It is an example of land that was once wild, then tamed for farming, then further domesticated as a tree nursery, and now returning to its old wild glory. The park displays this by retaining vestiges of the land's past.
Take some time to walk or bike through this new park. It is well worth the visit.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, July 27, 2011
Old films provide a window in time (July 13, 2011)
Old documentary films enable us to be time travelers.
Last Sunday on television's "60 Minutes" there was a report on a black-and-white film made in 1906 of Market Street in San Francisco. Someone mounted a camera on the front of a trolley car and, as the trolley rolled along Market Street, the camera lens took in the busy streetscape with its cars, wagons, carts, bicycles, newsboys, pedestrians, and store fronts.
The film is a poignant look through the window of time of that city because it was made just days before the massive earthquake in 1906 that devastated San Francisco. The "60 Minutes" report observed that many of the people going about their day in the film were most likely among the thousands disrupted, injured or killed by the earthquake. When the film was made they had no idea what awaited them.
Seeing the film made me think about a black-and-white home movie that is in the Groveport Heritage Museum archives. The nearly 17 minute, 16 mm film, made in 1937, gives a view of what appears to be an early spring day in Groveport as an uncredited camera person wandered around town randomly filming people and places.
Though the Groveport film was made 74 years ago, many of the streets and buildings are familiar to the modern eye. Familiar, but different, as some buildings were remodeled and streets reconstructed. However, watching the film it is unmistakably Groveport unfolding before one's eyes.
The joy of watching the film is the people who appear in its frames. There are happy elderly folks walking down the street, a man joking around with a broom, people patiently smiling for the camera when the lens finds them, business people proudly posed before their stores, children on the school playground, kids playing baseball and running track, and a long sequence of students pouring out of the main door of Groveport Elementary School. In a very human moment, a happy romantic couple is walking on a sidewalk toward the camera and the girl gives a shy smile as she hugs her boyfriend. These are scenes of people living in the normalcy of their time and place.
The older folks have an air of the 19th century about them in their clothing and demeanor. The younger people are dressed in a more modern, yet plain, style and they appear far more expressive and comfortable with the idea of being filmed.
Plus, nearly everyone wore a hat of some kind.
Like the San Francisco trolley film, this 1937 Groveport film also captured a kind of calm before the storm as, in just four years, the pleasant day to day activities of small town life would be disrupted by World War II.
I know that most of those in the 1937 film are no longer with us. But, by watching the people smile and laugh as they walk down the same sidewalks that we trod upon today, they still seem alive. It's like time from then and now is simultaneous as the film unspools. The film enables the viewer to enter their old world and be part of it for a moment, to put oneself in surroundings that are of a familiar place, but of another time. It's a view that shows a town that belongs to both those of the past and those of today.
(Parts of the 1937 film were incorporated into the Groveport Heritage Society's documentary film, "Groveport: A Town and Its People.") - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, July 13, 2011
Radio radio(June 29, 2011)
Some people have a television in most of the rooms of their houses. I have radios.
There are four radios in my home, plus one in my car. I tend to have a radio turned on more often than the television, which stares at me blankly with its cycloptic eye wondering why I'm not staring back.
In my youth I was a devoted fan of the Columbus Jet minor league baseball team and would listen to their games over the radio. Baseball seems more suited to radio than television. On television the sport can appear slow and dull. On radio the announcer's call of the game triggers one's own imagination to take over, enabling us to create the scene taking place on the playing field in our own minds.
But mainly I got hooked on radios as a kid as a way to hear rock and roll music. Radio was where the new sounds from exciting bands entered one's ears.
Kids back then carried small transistor radios around with them to hear music the way people now use today's high tech digital devices. The radio would be strapped to a bicycle handlebar, nestled in the grass by the basketball hoop while we played, and anchoring a beach towel at the swimming pool.
To this day I love it when a song I like unexpectedly pours out of the radio speaker. It's a nice surprise to get that we lose out on today with our more modern pre-programmed devices where we know what song is coming and when.
I like the versatility and mobility of radio. These days I can turn on the radio and hear news, weather, nearly every style of music imaginable, talk shows, sports, documentaries, specialty essay style programs like "Moth Radio Hour" and "To the Best of Our Knowledge," and more.
Plus we're not anchored to the radio like one is with television. Television demands that we sit there and watch what it offers. Radio allows us to move about and do other things while still actively listening to what is coming over the airwaves.
In the car, the radio is a companion reaching out and engaging us during commutes, traffic jams, and long trips.
Radio is an old friend that is always there, be it the happiest of days or the loneliest of nights.
I wonder what's on right now... - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, June 29, 2011
The gift (June 15, 2011)
One fine day a VW Beetle pulled into my grassy gravel driveway and out popped an old friend of mine carrying a box.
I first got to know her years ago when we were both mired in the cubicle corporate world in a downtown skyscraper. We were both riding in an elevator in that business hive one afternoon when somehow the book, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance," came up in conversation. From then on, give or take a few bumps in the road, we were kindred spirits.
Smiling as she walked up my front steps, she handed me the box.
It was heavy and in my unwitty way I asked, "What's in it? A rock?"
"No, why would I hand you a box with a rock in it?" she asked slightly rolling her eyes.
We went in the house and I opened the box to find two volumes of the classic Ohio history by Henry Howe entitled, "Howe's Historical Collections of Ohio."
I gently lifted the old books, which had been handsomely rebound, and thumbed through the yellowed, more than century old pages. This historical work is one of the touchstones for any Ohio historian and I was elated to receive it. I'd been searching for it for years with no success and now it had been handed to me gift wrapped by a thoughtful friend.
A book was the source of our first conversation years ago, books continued to be a source of connection between us in the intervening years when we both attended Antioch University, and now she had graced me with a treasured classic text cementing our bond even further.
The Howe books are a wonderful thing to receive, but the true gift is my old friend.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, June 15, 2011
The ant battle (June 8, 2011)
In the early morning light, I saw them massing on the sidewalk at the edge of the grass. I knew the signs - an ant battle would soon erupt.
Why had the ants chosen this desolate piece of concrete sidewalk by the grass/gravel driveway to attack one another? It did not seem like valuable ground for ants because no ready food source was nearby to defend or take. Plus, it was a place where giant human footsteps and massive car wheels roamed. Why fight on this ground?
The ants appeared to be of the same type, so it was an ant civil war, so to speak. Why had they turned on each other?
The swarm of ants quickly grew and the battle was on. Ants frantically ripped at one another. In places, three, four, and five ants ganged up and attacked one ant, tearing it to pieces.
To view the swirl of ants was to see ferocity. They spun and bit, crawled and tore, chased and beheaded one another.
I watched for a while. Then left.
The next day, to my surprise, the battle was still on and even bigger than the day before. It covered nearly all of the slab of desert that was the sidewalk and spilled over into the jungle of the grass. The ants didn't appear to tire and were as aggressive as ever.
A friend of mine once told me if you breathe on an ant battle, it disorients them and they temporarily stop. So I gave it a try in the name of peace. It did seem to distract them, but only for a moment, and then they lunged at each other as fiercely as before.
I saw one ant leaving the scene carrying the half of a body of a dead ant. Was he carrying it away to eat? Was it a trophy? Was it an ant friend of his he tried to save?
The most intense fighting was in the center of the fray with ant on top of ant. It was a monstrous biting brawl. At the edges of the battle one on one combat was the norm.
Again I walked away marveling at the ants' determination and stamina.
The following morning I found the ant battle had entered day three! The swarm as large as ever and not abating. Now many dead ant bodies could be seen lying about the battle scene. The ants weren't carrying away the carcasses like the day before. The fight was foremost.
What caused this battle? Why was it not waning?
Day four. I visited the scene of the bug carnage. The battle was over. Dead ants everywhere. A few other ants skittered about the site as if they were looking for something, or someone.
Who won? What did they win? Where did they all go?
Day five. The scene of the ant battle was cleared and empty. The dead ant bodies gone. It was as though the ant battle never took place.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, June 8, 2011
The "Sweet Spot of Irrelevancy" (June 1, 2011)
There are several moments of transition in life.
The first is from baby to toddler when mobility and speech take hold. Then comes changing from being kid to becoming teenager with all of its accompanying angst. Next is the growth from teen to adult with its taste of new found possibilities. Then middle age with its responsibilities and goals. At the end come the senior years of retirement.
But there's an age that comes between middle age and senior life. It's a brief period of time a friend of mine labeled, "The Sweet Spot of Irrelevancy." It's a time period my friend and I inhabit these days.
This is a time when teenagers think you are ancient, middle agers think you are invisible, and senior citizens think you are still a whippersnapper.
During the "Sweet Spot of Irrelevancy:" merchants don't cater to you; marketers don't target you; politicians no longer beg for your vote; television programmers haven't spotted your trends for years; and music producers scoff at your tastes even as they borrow freely from the sounds pioneered by your contemporaries.
But, you know what? All that does not matter because the "Sweet Spot of Irrelevancy" is a time of great freedom. Freedom that comes from: being functionally healthy; having beneficial experience and knowledge; having no desire to being tied to the latest cultural trends and trappings; and being able to recognize unrealistic expectations.
The "Sweet Spot of Irrelevancy" is when we can try new things and do something we like because we realize a lot of stuff we once let restrict us just does not matter.
Just let go and be in the present. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, June 1, 2011
Me, my Mom, and Bob Dylan (May 24, 2011)
"Listen to this. I think you'll like it. It's different," my Mom said one day in 1965 as she dropped the record player needle onto a new record she brought home.
The pop of the needle on vinyl was quickly followed by the snap of a drum and a swirl of music surrounding a sneering snarl, "Once upon a time you dressed so fine, threw the bums a dime, in your prime, didn't you..."
She was right, but it was more than different. Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" was exciting and I liked it.
Dylan is 70 years old today and his birthday reminds me of those days in the 1960s when my mom and I were on a similar musical plane.
Mom introduced my young ears to all kinds of folk music, then folk rock and the world of rock n' roll beyond.
Music was a bond for us then. We stood together in line at the store to buy the first Beatles album. On summer afternoons we would often watch the garage rock band Paul Revere and the Raiders on the pop music show "Where the Action Is."
She brought home a variety of folk and rock records, 45 rpm singles mostly, that we would stack up on the phonograph and play. But introducing me to Dylan's music had the most impact.
Hearing "Like a Rolling Stone" for the first time - with its nearly six minute length, heavy lyrics, and relentless roll of the music - immediately made much of the other pop music at the time seem sugary and incomplete.
As the years went on I discovered more Dylan music, as well as other musicians who followed in his wake, while my Mom became more of a country and Gospel music fan. Our musical tastes drifted over time.
But we did have one more Dylan moment together in the early 1970s. We were driving in the car one day when we heard what we thought was a new Dylan song on the radio that we both immediately liked. Our old music connection was still there.
It turns out the song, "Stuck in the Middle With You," was not by Dylan, but by a Dylan sound alike band called Stealer's Wheel. We both laughed at getting fooled.
Then, after a moment, my Mom said, "Every band wants to be Dylan." - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, May 24, 2011
Collected memory (May 18, 2011)
History is collected memory. As a historian and journalist my job is to record memory in the context of time.
Time and memory have elusive qualities. Memories captured in time's web sometimes fade and disappear. Other remembrances remain vivid or can be found again, triggered by an outside force.
Even though each second, each minute, each hour moves relentlessly forward in a steady march toward an unending, unreachable point, within in our minds we can experience our past, present, and future at will.
In his book, "Slaughterhouse Five," Kurt Vonnegut explored this concept in his own fanciful, existential way by endowing the book's hero, Billy Pilgrim, with the ability to experience all the moments in his life - be they happy, tragic, or absurd - simultaneously. In this bit of fiction, Pilgrim was able to physically move about in time, or become "unstuck in time" as Vonnegut put it. However, the hapless Billy had no control over where he was, is, or would be.
Unlike Billy, we can freely float about in our memories as we please to experience the past. We can immerse ourselves in the present. We can wonder of what will be.
There are signposts in memory. Remembrances that seem vivid as if to be experienced for the first time, yet known well and are deeply embedded within. Certain things trigger memory - a sound, a sight, a touch, a place, a time of year, a feeling. Most often it is the little things of life that resonate the most, that create an echo in the well of time.
A late summer Sunday afternoon in Groveport seems to be a trigger for me. One of those late August Sundays when it is still warm, but the sun is angling lower, creeping slowly towards its winter home on the horizon. The angle of the rays creates a slight golden hue amongst the lengthening shadows. Though the air is warm, there is a hint of autumn easing in to make itself comfortable on the landscape. The streets and sidewalks are empty for the most part. Little League baseball teams have finished for the year and the dusty diamonds at the old elementary school sit empty; the weeds already growing in their attempt to repopulate the skinned dirt infields. The shops are closed for the day. Most people are settling in their homes for the evening resting up for the work week ahead. Life takes a collective breath and gears down for a moment.
It's on walks on such a day that memory flows. I can remember sitting, many years ago, probably somewhere between 1959 and 1961, in the backyard grass on the hill of my early boyhood home on Clark Court in Groveport on such a late afternoon August Sunday. The grass is dry, but cool, the blades a bit coarse and dark as their once spring freshness has faded. My brother tosses a balsa wood airplane glider in the yard. My parents sit and relax on the back stoop as the sun sets. My sister pets Lady, our old cocker spaniel. In the distance I can hear a church bell in the village begin to ring for the evening services.
Not a momentous memory of a life changing event. But a memory, one of a countless number from other points along time's way, that is so ingrained that it is a part of one's being. A memory that helps make us who we are. The small moments, brief, but deep, are what make up the foundation of what we become. It is this base that gives us the strength to weather the big problems of life and to better embrace the big joys.
The present connects the past to the future and in doing so is the gateway to grace. Though we put artificial measures on time - with our seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years - to function in our busy world, it is uncalibrated time that is a conduit for our lives. We move about within its planes and touch upon those who went before us and those who will follow us. We live on as long as we remember and as long as our memories, and those of others, float in the sea of time.
(Note: This was a speech I made at a Groveport Madison High School Alumni banquet a few years ago.) - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, May 18, 2011
Belle Vernon (May 11, 2011)
The rhythmic hum of tires on pavement rolling along I-70 East had put me in a trance of almost hypnotic automatic pilot behind the wheel.
In this lulled state, it took me a moment to notice the smoke starting to seep out from under the hood of the old Ford. Then came a tearing/grinding sound and the dashboard warning lights lit up. The engine ceased.
Adrenalin flowing through me even as the fuel stopped pumping through the engine, I managed to coast the car to the narrow berm near a bridge spanning the Monongahela River in Pennsylvania.
It was the late 1970s and I had been on my way to Maryland to pick up my brother from the Army. I emerged from the lifeless car and popped the hood. Smoke rolled out and, as it cleared, I saw the mechanical carnage. A fan belt had snapped and, apparently not wanting to die alone, took other belts with it and they were now a smoldering tangle amongst the engine parts.
I looked around and saw a small river town across the bridge on the opposite bank. A nearby highway sign proclaimed the town's name - Belle Vernon.
I would later find out the town's name is French for "beautiful green," but as I walked across the bridge to seek mechanical help, the only green I noticed was the frothy greenish yellow of the Monongahela River flowing below. This was the 1970s, environmentalism was in its infancy, and many of the rivers in the Rust Belt had this other worldly, unnatural looking quality.
It was a Sunday and traffic was light on I-70 and what vehicles that did pass by paid me little notice. I trudged into Belle Vernon hoping to find an open service station or car repair garage. However, this was an era when many businesses in small towns still closed on Sunday and the streets of the little town were quiet.
I walked along seeing one "closed" sign after another until I came upon a service station and, though its sign said "closed," I could see a man in overalls tinkering under the hood of a pick up truck. He was a rough and tumble looking man, the kind of fellow where it's hard to pinpoint his age because of the toll of years of hard work on his body.
I called out "hello" and he looked at me and squinted. He appeared immediately suspicious of this young, long haired guy walking toward him.
"Are you open?" I asked. "My car's broke down up on I-70."
"Closed," he said.
"I'm not from around here and could use some help," I said. "Is there anyone else around that could help me out?"
"Everything's closed," he said with some annoyance. "Where are you from?"
"Ohio," I said.
"Why are you out here?" he asked.
"I was on my way to Maryland to pick up my brother from the Army," I replied.
"The Army," he said.
Then, after a moment he asked, "What's wrong with your car?"
I told him about the shredded belts.
He didn't say anything else, just motioned me to get in the nearby tow truck.
We drove to the car, he looked it over, and then towed it back to his garage without saying a word.
In a short time he had the new belts in place and the car was up and running.
I thanked him and asked him what I owed him.
"Nothin,'" he said. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, May 11, 2011
The mirror image (May 4, 2011)
So does how you part your hair make a difference in your life?
It seems superficial and shallow, but our initial physical perceptions of people seem to impact how we react to each other.
I'm one of those people who like to listen to the Sunday afternoon radio magazine style radio programs on National Public Radio and Public Radio International -shows like "To the Best of Our Knowledge," "This American Life," and "RadioLab." This past Sunday, RadioLab had discussions about how perceptions of physical symmetry and asymmetry affect us. Topics ranged from the left handed shapes of molecules, to how some people's brain waves can match up even though their personalities are quite different, to the chaos of mirror images.
Amidst all this the subject of where one parts one's hair and its social effects popped up. They talked with people who said when they changed the part in their hair they were treated better, they looked better, and life was better for them. Then the show's hosts pointed out the image we see in the mirror is not the image other people see when they look at us.
So what we think we look like is not what we really look like. Nothing is as it seems. It's blows my mind, man!
Online at RadioLab.org you can see photos of images of Abraham Lincoln - one as we see him and one as he would see himself in the mirror.
Take a look at them and see what you think. Does Honest Abe look different, better, or the same? - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, May 4, 2011
Fill 'er up (April 27, 2011)
Gas stations were once a common sight along Groveport's Main Street.
At Main Street and Wirt Road there was Rich's Sunoco with its bright blue and yellow sign and markings. Right beside it was the Sohio station. Both buildings are now gone. At Brook Alley and Main Street was the Shell station and its now vacant building still is there. A Texaco station stood at the west end of town in what is now a vacant lot on the northeast corner of Main Street and State Route 317.
In addition there was once a gas pump in front of a pizza place that used to occupy the the southeast corner of Main and Madison streets. Also, there was a gas pump in front of a roofing/gutter business on Main Street near Frank Alley.
Lots of gasoline outlets for our automobile culture to fill up and hit the road.
There are more cars on the road now than 40 years ago, but currently there are only two gas stations on Main Street - Certified and at Kroger. Gas stations these days are combined with retail outlets.
When I first learned to drive, I gassed up my white and black 1968 Ford LTD (390 cubic inch engine, hideaway headlights - sweet!) at Rich's Sunoco, primarily because that's where my dad always went.
At Rich's Sunoco, just like at other gas stations of that era, drivers got full service. I'd pull in by the pumps and the wheels rolled over a rubber air hose that made a "ding ding" sound to alert the station attendant there was a customer. The attendant asked me what I wanted and I'd say, "Fill 'er up with regular." He'd pump the gas, clean the windshield, and check the oil.
The old gas stations were geared to vehicles and also did oil changes, maintenance, and repairs on cars. They weren't convenience stores like today.
Plus, the guys working in these places knew cars. All kinds of cars.
I remember I had a 1976 Ford Granada (not exactly a classic car) that tended to stall frequently. I took it to Rich's Sunoco and the mechanic there told me he used to work at a Ford plant where they made Granadas. He said some Granadas had an odd quirk where they wouldn't run correctly unless a particular vent hole in a small pipe coming out of the engine was covered. I don't remember what he said the original purpose of this pipe was, only that he said it was a pain in the, well, you know. But, he had a simple solution for me. He cut a small rubber plug out of some spare material and stuck it in the hole.
He laughed and said, "There ya go. No charge."
Maybe he was pulling my leg, but the temperamental Granada never stalled again. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, April 27, 2011
Five routes (April 20, 2011)
Standing at the remains of Ohio and Erie Canal lock #22 in Groveport Park, one has the unique chance to view five different historical transportation routes that helped shape both Groveport and Ohio.
It's not unusual that progressing forms of transportation tended to follow established routes. Native Americans and pioneers followed streams and rivers. Those paths became roads eventually leading to the establishment of towns. Ohio's canal systems followed natural waterways and helped fledgling towns grow. From there the railroad connected these places and later the electric interurban railway followed suit.
At lock #22 in Groveport these five transportation systems are close together and can all be seen from this one spot. Standing at the lock and looking south, one can see the tree line for Walnut Creek. Just north of the creek is busy Groveport Road. At the lock, the remnants of the now dry Ohio and Erie Canal channel are easily seen. A few steps north of lock #22 is a well worn path that is the now abandoned right of way for the Scioto Valley Traction Line's interurban railway. A few more steps to the north and one can see the still in use railroad tracks.
This is a distinctive historical spot where one can envision images of the past such as canoes being paddled down Walnut Creek, horse drawn wagons rumbling along a dusty Groveport Road, boats gliding along the waters of the canal, the interurban speedily whooshing its way through the countryside, and steam locomotives chugging their way to faraway locales.
Plus, these days, a sixth transportation system can be seen overhead if a roaring jet airplane happens to fly over on its way to Rickenbacker Airport while one is standing at lock #22.
We're always on the move. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, April 20, 2011
The marker (April 13, 2011)
Recently an old friend and I were wandering around Columbus' Franklin Park when we came upon a rock bearing a metal historical marker that is now weathered green with age.
I like unexpectedly coming upon historical markers like this because it helps one's perspective of what a place was once like. Plus it's a chance to learn historical tidbits.
The marker, erected in 1949, commemorates a famous speech by General William T. Sherman, noted, among other things, for his success in leading a Union army in its "March to the Sea" across the South during the Civil War.
Sherman made the speech on Aug. 11, 1880 at reunion of Civil War veterans. In 1880, Franklin Park was the state fairgrounds and Sherman told the crowd gathered there that day, "There is many a boy here today who looks at war as all glory, but boys, it is all hell."
(Through the years Sherman's famous quote has been shortened to, "War is hell.")
My friend and I stood there in modern Franklin Park - with its rolling green lawns and trees and bushes ready to burst forth in spring blooms - and tried to picture what the place looked like in 1880 when it was the state fairgrounds.
We imagined the site was more open with less ornamental greenery about. Definitely no winding asphalt paths like are there now. Since it was a fairgrounds, the place was no doubt scruffier looking than the finely trimmed park it is now. The historical marker denoting the site of Sherman's speech was on a little hill. Was this a bit of high ground where Sherman could stand and speak to those gathered around the base of the hill?
Places change over time. Sometimes there are remnants of what went before, but each generation tends to put its own mark on a place. Even preserved places are not exactly like they once were.
We can rely on old photographs to help us envision the past, but even those black and white images at times are just shadows of a place. But, with knowledge and our brain power, we can picture a place in our minds and make it live again as it once did. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, April 13, 2011
Laws were simpler once (April 6, 2011)
These days it is common for the federal and state governments to churn out new laws that have to be outlined and spelled out in cumbersome legal language in hundreds, sometimes thousands of pages.
Though many local government ordinances are still relatively short in comparison at a few pages, these entities sometimes have laws, particularly contractual legislation, that can run into a dozen pages or more.
It wasn't always this way. I did a little research in the Groveport Heritage Museum to look back at what the first laws enacted by the town entailed when it first officially incorporated in 1847. Elected officials in Groveport, like most small towns of that era, were primarily concerned with bringing some order to rough and tumble pioneer towns. The laws they enacted were direct, simply phrased, and often consisted of just a sentence or two.
Here are some of the early laws enacted in Groveport from 1847 to 1858:
•It was illegal to block any street or alley.
•Those owning property on Main Street had to construct gravel sidewalks.
•It was illegal to race horses, fight, brawl, quarrel, shoot guns, or otherwise disturb the peace within village limits. (Though mayor's court records of that era show a lot of this went on despite the law!)
•A tax was imposed on dogs in an attempt to reduce the number of roving rovers in town.
•It was illegal to slaughter livestock within village limits except for family use. (This was a departure from the 1820s and 1830s when Jacob Wert operated a large livestock slaughterhouse and meat packing business near the Ohio and Erie Canal in town. By the time this was enacted Wert had passed away.)
•Residents were required to dispose of dead animal carcasses and not leave them laying around to rot.
•Boxing or fisticuffs was banned as well as gambling and general rowdiness.
•A person had to obtain a license to stage a play, circus, menagerie of animals, or to display an exhibition of wax figures.
•Hogs were no longer allowed to run loose and forage around town. The town marshal had the authority to confiscate any free roaming hog and sell it.
Simpler times. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, April 6, 2011
Finding Easter (March 30, 2011)
Easter is a movable holiday, which I think adds to its special nature.
Unlike other holidays, it is not rigidly fixed to a date. Nor is it bureaucratically relegated to a "Monday holiday" status that has turned some holidays into mere excuses for three day weekend status.
Easter can fall on a Sunday anywhere from March 22 to April 25, which means the holiday could be covered in either snow or bright spring flowers depending on the year.
Originally the date for Easter was determined to be the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox (spring). But somewhere back in antiquity knowledgeable folks discovered the spinning earth and cosmos affected the calculation of the date because it's night on one side of the earth and day on the other at the same time. When you add in the later institution of the international date line, using the original calculation method would result in Easter possibly being celebrated on different days in different parts of the world.
So these ancient knowledgeable church scholars and astronomists created a astronomical ecclesiastical historical table/formula to determine Easter's date each year. Under this, Easter falls on the first Sunday following the first ecclesiastical full moon after the vernal equinox. This ecclesiastical full moon can vary up to two days from the astronomical full moon.
Mankind's method for determining Easter's date brings a kind of order to the ever spinning universe for earthly and spiritual purposes. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, March 30, 2011
Moon up (March 23, 2011)
In my early life as a student, most science classes, like biology and chemistry where we dissected frogs and mixed frothy potions, did not intrigue me.
But astronomy, that was different. It piqued my interest not because of the zillions of stars and exotic planets, which are cool, but mainly because of the silvery white moon of the earth, our familiar neighbor in the sky.
From a young age I checked calendars for the drawings and dates of the moon phases. (The best calendars included a face on the moon in these drawings.) I liked to track the moon's waxing and waning phases and watch how its appearance and location in the sky changed from day to day and season to season.
I enjoy how the moon plays a role not only scientifically in the life of the earth as a sort of sky clock and with its gravitational pull on the water, but also its part in our culture where it inhabits pictures, stories, and songs. In these human artworks the moon can range from illuminating the love among romantics to tormenting a person into becoming a howling werewolf. That's one versatile satellite in the sky.
This past weekend was a special one for the moon and for us on earth who watch it. The moon glowing above was at its closest point to earth, a moment that comes about every 18 years. The moon's orbit above earth is oval shaped and when it's at its farthest point away it is at its apogee to earth. Then, when it wheels around to its closest point to earth, it is at perigee. At perigee, the moon appears 10 to 15 percent larger than normal and 25 to 30 percent brighter than usual. It is still the same sized moon with the same glow, but being thousands of miles closer than usual makes it seem bigger and brighter.
I hope you got to see this grand natural sight in the night and could bask in the light of the moon at its perigee peak. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, March 23, 2011
The time before (March 16, 2011)
The release of the 2010 U.S. Census, which reflects the growing populations of Canal Winchester and Groveport (both reaching city status) as well as Madison Township, prompted me to look back to what the area was like in the early 19th century before the communities took root and blossomed into what they are today.
Southeastern Franklin County opened to settlement following the Treaty of Greenville in 1795, which established a boundary line between Native American lands and those of Ohio. Located in what was known as the Congressional Lands of Ohio, the land in this area was open to anyone who could afford the sale price. The federal government sold the land at $2 per acre before 1820 and $1.25 per acre after that year. The land was rich for farming and affordable so it attracted settlers.
When the first pioneers reached what would become Canal Winchester, Groveport, and Madison Township, they found a dense forest of giant oak trees towering above the earth. Ash, walnut, hickory, elm, maple, and beech trees formed a leafy canopy. The area teemed with wildlife. The many creeks abounded with fish. Game such as elk, deer, turkey, squirrel, and rabbit filled the woods. Wolves and bears prowled about.
Think about how quiet it must have been with the only sounds being that of the forest and the weather.
Things would soon change as the coming of the Ohio and Erie Canal in the 1820s and 1830s - and later the railroad in 1868 and the interurban in 1904 - spurred the commercial and residential growth of the villages of Canal Winchester and Groveport that has lead these many years later to the towns evolving from pastoral communities to becoming busy small cities.
Though the two towns, as well as the township, have grown, one thing the people of these communities have done well is balance the growth with the preservation of nearby open green space and woodlands.
Because of this, it is still possible for us today to stand in a local meadow or woods to fill our senses and experience a little of the natural splendor our pioneer ancestors did when they first arrived here. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, March 16, 2011
City life for Groveport? (March 10, 2011)
City of Groveport?
It sounds strange after all these years of referring to the town as the Village of Groveport...and I kind of like the sentimentality of referring to a place as a "village." It sounds cozier than "city," which brings to mind a place that has the "big shoulders" poet Carl Sandburg once wrote about.
Preliminary numbers from the 2010 U.S. Census show Groveport's population at 5,363, up from 3,865 in 2000, which means the town has crossed the 5,000 limit to city status.
Right now I'm a bit skeptical about the accuracy of the 2010 population number because I haven't seen evidence of explosive residential growth in the town in the past 10 years.
Groveport is surrounded by flood plains and a designated airplane noise corridor for Rickenbacker Airport and those two factors alone discourage residential development.
So, while the powers that be sort through these new numbers for accuracy, I thought it would be interesting to share with you past Census numbers to illustrate how Groveport's population has grown over time:
(* Estimates of combined population of Wert's Grove and Rarey's Port. The two towns combined to form Groveport in 1847.) - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, March 10, 2011
Pundit patter experiment (March 7, 2011)
A friend of mine conducted an experiment where he turned his television on alternately to the evening-talking-head-pundit-shows on the left leaning MSNBC and the right leaning Fox News, but instead of watching the shows, he listened to them from a couple of rooms away.
What he discovered by just using his ears was the programs sounded like shrill noise. He encouraged me to try the experiment, so I did.
My experience was similar to his. Without the visual screen image, one's sense of hearing is heightened. I noticed the voices rising from the television had a hard, high pitched edge. The sentences came in rapid, machine gun bursts and it was common for the various speakers to talk over one another. I perceived that there were no thoughtful pauses in the break neck pacing of the talking. There was little of evidence of real listening taking place nor measured responses.
All was attack mode and had the feeling of the rabid banter of pro wrestlers when they square off nose to nose spouting at each other before their orchestrated pummeling.
Nowhere present was the wit, intelligence and reasoned depth of thought political thinkers of years gone by, such as William F. Buckley and Noam Chomsky, displayed.
We are poorer for it.
But I will not condemn the talking heads on these programs because their shouting is free speech. It's our responsiblity as citizens and voters to sort it all out. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, March 7, 2011
The dare (March 2, 2011)
Deep into the evening on a sweltering summer night in the mid-1960s, a handful of neighborhood kids milled around outside, not yet wanting to go home for the night.
After exhausting the various after dark games of hide n' seek, bloody murder, and the like, we sought other ways to prolong the fun of the night. When you're a kid few things beat being out late in the grassy yards of summer knowing school is a distant threat in far off September.
Back then, Groveport was a much smaller place with fewer people and little traffic on Main Street after dark. The old joke was the last one in was supposed "to roll up the sidewalks for the night."
The neighborhood was quiet except for the chirping of summer bugs and the muffled sounds of televisions slipping out of the screened windows of the nearby houses.
It was time for the daring to begin. The age old, young male version of testing one another. We stood along Main Street under the added darkness of the big shade trees when one of us looked at the empty asphalt street, turned, and said to the group, "I dare somebody to lie down in the middle of Main Street."
This produced laughs and taunts at first, but then came under consideration.
"I'll do it if everyone does it," said one.
"No way, that's stupid," said another.
"Chicken!" was the reply.
"Let's do it!" was called out.
We looked up and down the street. Nary a headlight in sight either direction.
We loped out into the street and lay down horizontal to the yellow line.
Though the air was hot, the asphalt felt cool to the touch. It was gritty and seemed a bit oily, too. Looking straight up past the dim streetlight, the stars danced about in the sky. No one spoke.
We all lay there feeling foolishly brave, no one wanting to be the first to get up and run to the curb.
Then, in the distance, blocks away, two headlights, so far away that they looked more like a small flashlight, appeared.
Hearts jumped and all valor disappeared.
"Car!" someone yelled.
We all scrambled to our feet and sprinted to the curb, past the sidewalk and up the small hill laughing all the way. After a while the car we saw, which while we were laying in the street seemed like it was fast enough to break the sound barrier, slowly wheeled past.
Nevertheless, we all congratulated ourselves on our collective bravery.
We never laid down in the street again. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, March 2, 2011
Isolated together (Feb. 22, 2011)
As we fret over how the Internet and other assorted digitized gizmos cordon us off electronically these days, we are prone to forget that personal social isolation is a constant in human existence.
Two recent events reinforced this thought in me - looking at a painting and going to a movie.
The painting is Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks." Created in 1942, the familiar painting depicts a handful of people seated separately in a city diner late at night. They appear to be silent and there is no evidence of interaction. Each is contained in their own personal bubble and alone in a public space. Alone, surrounded by a city full of people.
I rarely go to movie theaters any more, but I went to a matinee one recent Sunday. There were five of us seated in the theater, scattered individually about. No one made eye contact or spoke to one another. We watched the film and when it was over we walked out without acknowledging each other.
Even when a theater is packed with people sitting side by side in the dark intimacy of the movie theater, a place of a shared experience of emotion ranging from sadness to laughter, the same social script plays out, just with more of us avoiding each other as we inhabit our contained personal world in the public realm.
It's not just the new electronic devices that separate us from human contact. We do it to ourselves, too.
We're all isolated together. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Feb. 22, 2011
The scarcity of snowmen (Feb. 14, 2011)
Where have all the snowmen gone?
We've had a fair amount of snow this winter season, more than 23 inches, which provided plenty of frosty material for making snowmen.
But I've noticed very little snow sculpting in the area this year. Is it because it's been too cold, causing the snow to be an improper texture for packing; or, is it because there's not a cellphone app or Wii game for snowman making?
Making a snowman is a creative act of defiance to Old Man Winter. With the rolling the three classic snowballs (big for the bottom, medium for the middle, and small for the head) to make the traditional snowman; or the fashioning of fanciful snowman designs by the more artistic among us - the snowman rises up from the bleak gray of winter as a symbol that the cold can't stop us from living and having fun.
I like how a snowman lingers, too. As temperatures warm and the snow melts, a snowman is the last remnant to melt away, holding its form as long as it can until it's a mere shrinking snow pile in the sun amongst the brown grass. This slow farewell of the snowman makes one appreciate both the effort it took to create him and the warmth that takes him away.
This year though, there just aren't many snowmen around to herald the transformation of winter to spring. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Feb. 14, 2011
Civil discourse need not be bland (Feb. 9, 2011)
We're hearing a lot these days from the punditry about the need for a more civil brand of political discourse in America. There's lots of hand wringing about how mean and low we've become in our political debates and how it's the so called "worse than it's ever been."
Really? Worse than when politicians fought duels in the early 19th century? Worse than when a Southern politician took a cane to the head of a Massachusetts politician in the antebellum Congress? Worse than when the bile spewed so much we actually fought a War Between the States from 1861-65?
No, today's sound bite jabs are quite weak compare to those past levels of incivility. Today's political discourse seems more like petty sniping than anything else.
So, what can be done to improve our modern brand of political discourse to make it both civil and meaty at the same time?
First, the different sides of the political spectrum need to be more open minded and ready to hear diverse views. A mix of ideas can temper the extremes.
Second, people should question themselves. Ask yourself, when were you willing to consider a change in point of view? When were you open to change of any kind in your life?
Next, do not be civil for the sake of being civil just to make it look like everyone is playing well together. That accomplishes nothing. This isn't a game. It's our world and existence we're talking about.There's nothing wrong with strong, impassioned debate as long as there is intellect behind it.
Don't plaster on a phony smile when debating. Plastic smiles are grating. It's okay to have a serious look when discussing weighty topics. You don't have to be friends, you just have to be fellow citizens.
Finally, share what you really think about an issue. Don't dance around trying to please your political buddies at the expense of what is actually on your mind. Things get done when people are straight with one another. One side may not like it at the time, but there's always another potential future debate to change the course.
Seek real ideas and passion, not pseudo events and pandering. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Feb. 9, 2011
Champions existed before the Super Bowl (Feb. 7, 2011)
The Super Bowl, despite its hyperbolic name, is merely the National Football League (NFL) championship game.
I point this out because my sense of history is disturbed to hear sportscasters and fans talk as if there were no NFL championship games prior to the first Super Bowl in 1967. To do so ignores history.
History is more than military battles and presidential elections. Everything has a history, including fun stuff like music, sports, and the like.
For the record the 1967 title game was not called the Super Bowl, it was labeled the NFL/AFL Championship Game as it pitted the two champs from those two leagues against one another. It was labeled the Super Bowl later. Only the first four Super Bowls were unique in that they pitted the champions of the NFL and the AFL against one another.
In those days the perception was that of the staid, established NFL versus the upstart, rambunctious AFL. It was like a clash of cultures. But after the leagues merged in 1970, that element disappeared.
The NFL has held a championship game each season since 1933 (prior to that from 1920-32 the league was not split in divisions and had a regular season champion). Each of the champions from the pre-Super Bowl era is on the same plane as modern Super Bowl winners - they are all the NFL champions. To only seemingly acknowledge teams' Super Bowl wins blatantly ignores the championships accumulated by teams prior to 1967. Some teams may not have won a Super Bowl, but they have won NFL titles.
The Green Bay Packers have now won 13 NFL titles overall, followed by the Chicago Bears with 8, New York Giants with 7, Pittsburgh Steelers with 6, Dallas Cowboys with 5, San Francisco 49ers with 5, Washington Redskins with 5, Cleveland Browns with 4, Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts with 4, Oakland Raiders with 4, Detroit Lions with 4, New England Patriots with 3, Canton/Cleveland Bulldogs with 3, Los Angeles/Cleveland Rams with 3, Philadelphia Eagles with 3, Chicago Cardinals with 2, Miami Dolphins with 2, Denver Broncos with 2, and the Akron Pros, Chicago Staleys, Providence Steam Rollers, Frankford Yellow Jackets, New Orleans Saints, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers with 1 each.
(As a side note, the Browns also won 4 All-America Conference titles before joining the NFL in 1950. Also, from 1960-69 before merging with the NFL, the AFL champions included the Houston Oilers with 2, Buffalo Bills with 2, Kansas City Chiefs with 2, and the Dallas Texans, San Diego Chargers, New York Jets, and Oakland Raiders with 1 each.)
Just because many of the old champions played their games in the days before television spotlighted the title game and before commercials became one of the highlights of the Super Bowl extravaganza, doesn't detract from their achievement.
So, let's stop categorizing teams by Super Bowl wins and deservedly recognize them by actual NFL championships won. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Feb. 7, 2011
In the dark (Feb. 1, 2011)
I awoke early on a recent winter, pre-dawn, morning and decided to get a little exercise to start the day by taking a walk.
As I walked down Main Street in that closed winter way of hands thrust in coat pockets and shoulders hunched to block the wind, I noticed how the glowing streetlights brightly chased away the dark, making it slice away as a shadow slivers from the street.
Besides the streetlights, lights began to pop on here and there among the houses as people groggily started their day. Security lights in driveways and yards stood sentinel.
The modern brightness of the night prompted me to think of how the street would have been illuminated in the 1890s. The darkness was more prevalent then as the light thrown from old coal oil street lamps was dimmer than their electric 21st century counterparts. Due to the expense of fuel, many small towns had their lamplighters extinguish the coal oil street lamps before midnight, or earlier, plunging the streets into darkness. When there was a full moon, some town officials instructed their lamplighters not to light the coal oil street lamps at all, letting the moon's soft glow illuminate the streets instead.
The lights flickering on in the homes back then were candles or oil lamps emitting a small circle of intimate light as opposed to the incandescent electric bulb's ability to brawnily fill a room with white light.
Beyond that, a familiar darkness shrouded the pre-dawn in those old days. The people living then knew this darkness well, it was natural and expected to envelope the world after sundown, save for the nights when the full moon put on its monthly show. The darkness was there and the lifecycle adapted to it.
Above all, the dark was to be respected for things did, and still do, go bump in the night. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Feb. 1, 2011
Kay commented: Enjoyed this one very much as it brought back memories of my childhood when we moved into a big home that had no electricity. We were using kerosene lamps for more then a year before the electricity was installed plus two fireplaces and one pot-bellied stove. I remember we had an "icebox" with the ice delivered twice a week - but then we bought our first refrigerator a few months after my father put the electric in. Back in those days you didn't have to be a licensed electrician to install it yourself! How about that!
Air base and Groveport have long history together (Jan. 26, 2011)
On June 15 ,1942, Lockbourne Air Force Base (now Rickenbacker Airport) opened just two miles southwest of Groveport on land that previously was fields of corn and wheat.
At first the base housed an Army Air Force glider school, but by 1943 it was the busy home of a B-17 bomber combat pilot training program that by the end of World War II had trained 3,808 B-17 pilots.
During the war, the Groveport Lions Club once served 43 servicemen from the base a chicken dinner at Groveport Town Hall to make them feel more at home.
From its war time beginnings, the base has had both economic and social ties to the village of Groveport. Servicemen purchased items from Groveport stores, ate in village restaurants, and joined area churches. In the post war years a popular air show was held each year at the base for many years.
The base is now primarily a commercial airport that has spawned a vast industrial park that has helped support the village's revenues.
If you would like to learn more about the history of Lockbourne Army Air Force Base, later known as Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base, there is a historical exhibit about the base on display at Groveport Town Hall, 648 Main St., through February. Admission is free. The exhibit features photos and other memorabilia dating from the base's inception in 1942 through the present. Additionally there is information on the Civil War, World War I, airplane models, Eddie Rickenbacker, and the Tuskegee Airmen. Hours are Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday noon to 6 p.m. A smaller companion exhibit is on display at the Groveport Municipal Building, 655 Blacklick St. Hours there are Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Jan. 26, 2011
More than one way to meditate (Jan. 18, 2011)
I've never been able to meditate in the stereotypical way of sitting cross legged on the floor, eyes closed, deeply breathing, and clearing one's mind with a mantra.
Maybe it's because that method seems like such a formal way of relaxing, which then makes it non-relaxing in a "you have to do it this way" sort of way; or it's because my pragmatic small town Ohio, midwestern mind thinks it just seems odd to sit in that manner when there's a cushy couch nearby.
The dictionary defines the word meditate as "to reflect upon, ponder, contemplate; and meditation as "a devotional exercise of contemplation."
Taking these pure definitions in mind made me realize we all meditate in our own ways by doing a wide variety of things that naturally make us relax and ponder.
The two things I do that help me reflect, think, and relax are riding my bicycle and taking walks. Both can be peaceful, meditative activities that allow me to look around and absorb my surroundings. Biking or walking through the woods and meadows give me perspective. It allows me to see that, though time seems to be fleeting and rapidly spinning by, it is actually a slow process measured by the subtle seasonal changes I can see in the trees and fields.
I think this form of active meditation of interacting with one's surroundings engages both the mind and body.
Also, being in the present can be a meditative state by creating a heightened awareness of oneself in one's place, no matter where one is at the time, that renders the foggy past and the swirling future meaningless for a brief moment when all that matters is that one is in the here and now.
Noticing the present can be done at any time and any place by using all your senses to go beyond what is superficially dominating one's attention to see, hear, and feel what's beyond. It only takes a moment to reset the mind and body by briefly stopping to be in the present.
So don't let structured, mysterious methods of meditating block you. Find your own way to peace and mindfulness by doing what comes naturally for yourself.
It's freeing. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Jan. 18, 2011
Comment from Matt: The "sitting on a pillow with thumb and middle finger touching" stereotype is just one way to meditate. Its value, however, is in demonstrating that quieting one's mind takes practice. I need more than the woods or a familiar bike path to focus only on the scene in front of me. Someone once told me that "om" has three syllables: o; m; and the pause. At first glance, this seems silly. But I have found it a useful tool that, along with a walk or ride, slows the flow of distracting thoughts in order for me to quiet my mind. Simply blocking out distractions wherever I am is sometimes like holding my breath and thinking I can live without air. If you are capable of it, I salute you. It's a good, thought-provoking blog topic.
The crooners and me (Jan. 12, 2011)
In many music circles I'm considered uncouth and unsophisticated, even a musical blasphemer, because...take a deep breath...I'm not a fan of Frank Sinatra.
It's not that I don't acknowledge his singing talent and skill, Sinatra was the best of his style of sound.
Music is a subjective art and what resonates pleasantly in one person's ear sounds grating in another or, probably worse yet, registers no reaction at all. Good music and singing is something we know when we hear it individually.
In my formative years I can recall watching the old television variety shows where what I called the "tuxedo guys" were regularly trotted out to croon away. These were the sharp dressed, smooth operators who sang ballads and peppy uptempo songs they called "numbers." They usually had a big band performing with them, or sometimes just a piano player. Polished and clean, their singing and appearance was just lost on me. It bounced right off my young ears, not registering. They were just there.
Sinatra was the king of these tuxedo guys - snapping his fingers, smiling, holding the notes, extending the arms for the big finish. A kind of manufactured passion in my view.
It just didn't move me. I gravitated toward the earnest folk singers and then the rock and rollers where the passion was aflame in raw voices and raucous sounds. These scruffy types looked more like me, like they were my people.
There's nothing wrong with Sinatra and the other crooners and I admire their abilities and how they help fill the musical spectrum that ranges from them to classical music to show tunes to folk to country to rock to blues to pop to rap to hip hop and beyond.
They just weren't for me. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Jan. 12, 2011
War's end (Jan. 5, 2011)
Recently I visited Groveport's World War II Memorial, which is a large Ohio boulder, located in the northwest corner of the Groveport Elementary courtyard. It was dedicated there on Memorial Day in 1946 by the Groveport Lions Club.
Emblazoned on a plaque on the simple, brawny rock are the words: "Erected in honor of those men and women of this community who served in the armed forces during the Second World War and the following emergency occupation."
Idling by the rock, I thought about how the community celebrated when World War II finally ended.
When victory in Europe was announced in May, 1945, the church bells all over town rang out and the fire siren was sounded. The celebration was said to have been a bit muted though, because the war still raged in the Pacific.
Fully realized jubilation came to town when Japan surrendered in August, 1945. People celebrated by grabbing anything that made noise - church bells, cow bells, horns, sirens, firecrackers, and other noisemakers. Businesses closed for the day. An informal parade of cars formed in Canal Winchester, wheeled down Groveport Road and gathered up Groveport residents in their cars and headed to Lockbourne Air Force Base (now Rickenbacker Airport) to celebrate with and congratulate the soldiers and airmen stationed there.
Standing by the memorial rock on a quiet day 65 years later, I imagined I could still hear the celebratory sounds reverberating through the community. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Jan. 5, 2011
Counting us (Dec. 29, 2010) "The numbering of people itself seemed to symbolize the equality at which a democratic society aimed."
- From "The Americans: The Democratic Experience," by Daniel Boorstin, writing about the U.S. Census.
The statistics for the 2010 United States Census have been gathered and are being tabulated.
Though the larger purpose of the census is to determine population for the apportionment for the U.S. House of Representatives, I'm particularly interested in what the numbers will show for the villages of Groveport and Canal Winchester, Madison Township, and Southeast Columbus. Will Canal Winchester and Groveport achieve city status? Is Madison Township growing or decreasing in population? How does Southeast Columbus compare to the neighboring communities? What are the demographics for all of these areas? In essence, what can the numbers tell us about who we are?
I contacted census officials to try and find the local numbers, but, I was told that, while the big national numbers of the census have been released, the local numbers are still a few weeks away from being available for viewing.
So, we'll have to wait a little longer for a statistical snapshot of our local communities.
Until then, a little census history...
The census, which is conducted every 10 years, was deemed important enough by the founding fathers that they outlined its purpose near the top of the U.S. Constitution in Article I, section 2. According to the historian Daniel Boorstin, the first census in 1790 "counted only total population divided into white (male and female) and colored (free and slave); white males were divided into those above and below age 16." The 1800 census expanded to include five age categories. The figures were obtained by federal marshals according to judicial districts. For the next 50 years this was the information and method used for gathering census data.
The census of 1850 is considered the first modern enumeration, according to Boorstin. This census was the first to use official "census takers" to gather the social and economic information, which included data on agriculture, industry, schools, colleges, churches, libraries, newspapers, periodicals, poverty, crime, and wages in addition to merely counting people.
"The census had become a national inventory," wrote Boorstin.
The census has since taken on variations of this form and has supporters who believe the information obtained gives a clear view of who and what America is at a given point in time; and detractors who believe the census should stick to counting heads and dispense with the gathering of additional information, which they see as an invasion of privacy.
I'm still eager to see what the numbers can tell us regarding the present and future of our local communities. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Dec. 29, 2010
The old church (Dec. 28, 2010)
When I was a kid, there was a big willow tree that once grew at the corner of Center Street and the alley, shading the parsonage, behind the former Groveport Zion Lutheran Church. We kids would ride our assortment of odd looking, beat up bicycles through the tree's stringy, droopy branches sending them whipping in our wake.
Both the tree and parsonage house are now long gone, removed to make room for the parking lot behind the church. But the solid, big shouldered, red brick church still stands.
The Lutherans first formed a congregation in Groveport in 1911 and built this church on the northwest corner of Main and Center streets in 1918. The Lutherans worshiped there for 50 years before moving to their current building on west Groveport Road in 1968. The congregation's former home in the imposing Germanic style brick structure has served many other church denominations since, including the current Assembly of God congregation.
I grew up a couple blocks away from the church and I and my family were members there for many years. I spent much time as a kid going to Sunday School classes and church services in that fine old building.
The structure's formidable architectural presence then, as it is now, in the neighborhood is strong. Its large stained glass windows still colorfully illuminate the night when evening services are held there. Its bell tower rises high above nearby homes. Its sturdy structure, free of overly ornate flourishes, symbolizes strength, security, and permanence.
The old church was a wonderland of staircases and platforms in kids' eyes when I was growing up. I can recall us boys back then rumbling up and down the steps in chase mode and leaping from the flat concrete cap bordering the outdoor front staircase, imagining our leaps as actual flight before we crashed down in happy heaps in the grass below. I don't know how or why we didn't break any bones doing this.
It's been a long time since I was in the sanctuary of the church. I remember it as beautiful in its plain simplicity with its rows of wooden pews flowing down to the altar. My memory of the sanctuary is that it is magical, mysterious, and magnificent. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Dec. 28, 2010
Community rallies around fire victims (Dec. 20, 2010)
On Dec. 14, a terrible fire roared through a more than 100-year-old home at College and Cherry streets in Groveport, destroying the home and creating hardship for the two families who resided there.
No one was injured during the fire, but the families' lives are now severely disrupted. Now the community has stepped up to help the families.
"The fire's such a tragedy," said Jeff Baker, who owns the burned property and rented it to the displaced families. "I'm glad no one was hurt. It's great to see the community respond. Everyone has been so helpful."
Baker said Metro High School has adopted the families and is helping them out with boxes of donations and gift cards. Baker added Huntington Bank and his own attorney have also pledged support and other groups are holding benefits for the families.
Additionally, Groveport Presbyterian Church, located at 275 College St. across the street from the burned home, is collecting donations for the families on Dec. 20 and 21 from 6-9 p.m.
The house was once the home of the late Mary Moody, a well known and respected lady of the community. Also, Groveport Village Councilman Ed Rarey lived there as a boy.
"It was a real nice, solid home on a beautiful lot," said Baker, who added the structure will be torn down within the next two weeks.
It's wonderful to see the community respond so warmly and helpfully to this tragedy in helping these two families. It's the kind of response one sees in a close knit small town where the Christmas spirit exists year round. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Dec. 20, 2010
RikiLeaks (Dec. 14, 2010)
A friend jokingly suggested I come up with my own form of WikiLeaks, except it should be tailored to small town politics.
"You could call it 'RikiLeaks'," he said with a laugh.
Though an entertaining idea, the most prevalent leaks in small towns come from frozen, broken water lines in the streets. Plus, the only person who ever called me "Ricky" is my mom, and she hasn't done that in decades.
Small town politics tends to be an open book anyway. Everyone seems to know each other and, therefore, everyone already knows what everyone else is up to. It's kind of a sport. There are no real secrets in small town America.
Even if a "RikiLeaks" phenomena went racing through cyberspace with dispatches of small town intrigue, there's no way I could hide like WikiLeaks' head, Julian Assange, because most everyone in town knows who I am and where I live as well as that my family has lived in the area since before the Civil War. How could I be an exotic, shadowy figure when people can see me ambling down the street to the post office? - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Dec. 14, 2010
Other Christmas songs (Dec. 7, 2010)
We hear lots of wonderful traditional Christmas carols and standards this time of year, but, if you would like a change of pace in your holiday tunes, I offer these suggestions of pop songs with a Christmas theme (though some adhere to that theme more loosely than others):
•"River" by Joni Mitchell - The song opens with the melancholy notes of a piano playing "Jingle Bells" and then smoothly moves on to a memorable emotional lyric and tune highlighting Mitchell's range as a singer, writer, and musician.
•"Christmas Song" by Jethro Tull - The song's instrumentation has the feel of an old British folk tune creating a somber, serious atmosphere. Singer Ian Anderson admonishes the listener to remember that "Christmas spirit is not what you drink."
•"2,000 Miles" by the Pretenders - A pure Christmas ballad.
•"Father Christmas" by the Kinks - Okay, enough with the moody songs. Here's a crackling rocker from those English lads that is loud, cynical and funny. I have this on an old 45 rpm record and I always like to dust it off and give it a spin or two on the turntable at Christmas time.
•"Fairy Tale of New York" by the Pogues - This is a bit of raucous Irish folk rock by the Pogues and featuring Kristy MacColl. The song opens up on Christmas Eve in the drunk tank in New York and goes on to unroll a tale of two battling lovers who, I think under it all, still love each other in spite of their failings. The song has touches of vulgarity, but seems so very human.
•"Christmas" by The Who - This song, from the album "Tommy," isn't so much about Christmas as it is about the character Tommy coping with the holiday and life in general. The song propels along in The Who's great jet engine power style.
So, give these half dozen songs a listen, and, if you like, let me know if you have other such tunes you could add for me to check out, too. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Dec. 7, 2010
Edwards School gym (Dec. 2, 2010)
In November and December 1970, the gym at the then new Groveport Madison High School was still under construction when basketball season started.
I was a member of the freshman basketball team that year and, being freshmen, we were the lowest rung on the ladder among the reserve and varsity teams so we had to scrape and scrap for a place to practice. We were basketball nomads bouncing from gym to gym at Edwards Elementary to Madison Elementary and to the junior high.
Of those three gyms, the one at Edwards (located on Alum Creek Drive and now no longer a Groveport Madison school) was by far the smallest and quirkiest.
Built in 1923, the gym was on the second floor at Edwards and featured a small stage at one end. It had one basket and backboard permanently affixed to a brick wall, but the hoop at the stage end of the floor was an ancient portable. The ceiling was low, but not so low as to inhibit a nice arching jumpshot. In 1970, this old gym doubled as classroom space, with its basketball markings still clearly present on the shiny wood floor.
We would dress for practice on the stage behind the curtain, then push the students' desks to the sides of the narrow gym.
As we went through our drills at practice, misplaced passes, dribbles, and shots caromed off the too-close-to-the-playing-surface desks, brick walls, and caged windows sending papers scattering and creating loud bangs and thumps.
Though the small bandbox gym from a past era was not suited to the faster paced style of the modern game, I loved the experience of playing on a floor where my uncles and aunts on the Woods side of my family, as well as my mom, played basketball in their youth. It was both a physical and spiritual connection to the past.
We practiced at Edwards a few times in November and then moved on to the slightly larger gym at Madison Elementary and the massive, classic gym at the junior high in December. By January 1971 the new high school gym was ready to use and we and the other Cruiser teams moved into our bright new home.
I was glad to be part of the last Cruiser basketball team to play in the old Edwards gym and to have contributed to its historic echoes of squeaky sneakers, thumping dribbles, and the swishing "thwip" of the nets. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Dec. 2, 2010
Challenging the rain (Nov. 29, 2010)
My first thought as I pulled in the Canal Winchester High School parking lot on Thanksgiving morning was, "These people are so alive!"
Thanksgiving Day dawned bleakly with steel gray skies, whipping winds, cold temperatures, and sheets of rain. However, Mother Nature did not dampen the spirits of a group of hardy runners as they participated in the Thanksgiving Day 5K run in Canal Winchester on the morning of Nov. 25. (The proceeds of which benefitted the Canal Winchester Food Bank and Human Services.)
While I sat cozy in my car waiting for the race to start so I could snap a few photos for the Messenger, the runners huddled together for warmth and shelter under the awning of a motor home, which was serving as the registration point for the race. Some were dressed in parkas and others in sweats. Everyone wore a hat. Some brave athletes wore shorts in pure defiance of the pelting cold rain.
As the race's start time neared, I got out of my car and headed for the starting line. The runners ventured out from the awning and warmed up as best as they could, instantly getting soggy from head to toe. But I heard no one complain and I saw many, many smiles. The only one staying dry was the race's costumed turkey mascot who smartly carried a colorful umbrella.
At the sound of the horn, the race began and the runners set off at a strong pace. They appeared happy to be moving, to actively challenge the rain rather than to stand in it passively.
The runners could just as easily been in their warm, dry homes curled up on a couch awaiting their Thanksgiving meal. But, instead, they were out in the elements to help raise money for the food bank and CW Human Services.
These are people who embody the spark of life. These are people who get out and do things no matter what tries to stop them. These are people to be admired. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Nov. 29, 2010
A death 47 years ago (Nov. 22, 2010)
Today is the anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Whether one liked Kennedy or not, it's a day when most people over the age of 50 will pause and think about that tragic day.
In 1963, it had been 62 years since the unsettling flurry and fury of the presidential assassinations of Abraham Lincoln in 1865, James Garfield in 1881, and William McKinley in 1901. Maybe, by 1963, people thought our society was beyond such an act and that's why Kennedy's death hit folks in such an emotional way.
Kennedy's assassination created a swirl of memories and debate among people from remembrances of where one was at the time of the killing, to the conspiracy theories, to the turmoil of the 1960s.
I was seven-years-old, going on eight, in November 1963 and one of the overriding impacts of the Kennedy assassination is that it led to the first funeral I experienced.
At such a young age I knew nothing of death and I took note of the serious demeanor the adults around me exhibited following the assassination. The weight of it all was palpable and I was drawn to the images of the funeral on the television.
My family didn't have a color tv at the time, so the deathly gray of the black and white images on the television screen added to the sad nature of what was transpiring.
For all of television's failings and criticisms for being a "vast wasteland," the medium's power to present images enabled a nation of millions to become a small community as they watched the somber proceedings.
The images stick in the soul from that viewing: the riderless horse, the stark sound of drums, the flag draped casket in the caisson...and the people, the gray pall of people lining the streets as the procession passed. I knew it was significant and I couldn't take my young eyes off of it.
Now age 54 going on 55, I've been to many funerals over the years. Though not as elaborate as Kennedy's, each one was important in its own right in honoring an individual who had passed on.
Nov. 22, 1963 taught me death comes to all and that everyone deserves respect when their time comes.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Nov. 22, 2010
Notes in books (Nov. 17, 2010)
I am not averse to making pencil notations in the books I read and own.
Some readers like to keep their books pristine, but I like to interact with what I'm reading and, when I'm in a particularly studious mood, I'll note passages in the text that resonate with me so I can find them again in the future.
Recently I decided to go back and look at some of the novels and short stories I read long ago to see what I notated. I wanted to share with you a few of the passages I thought were worth remembering at the time I read the books:
• "I wonder why progress looks so much like destruction." - John Steinbeck from "Travels with Charley."
• "There are men everywhere who talk and talk and say nothing." - Sherwood Anderson from the short story collection, "The Teller's Tales."
• "The bright hopes of youth have to be paid for at the bitter price of disillusionment." - W. Somerset Maugham from "Of Human Bondage." (I noted more passages in this book than in any other of my books.)
• "Matter is beautiful only in its imperfections. Only blockheads seek perfection, which is death. Let perfection seek you. You needn't seek it." - William Saroyan from the short story collection, "The New Saroyan Reader."
• "Go, seeker, if you will, throughout the land and you will find us burning in the night." - Thomas Wolfe from "You Can't Go Home Again."
• "And at night the river flows, it bears pale stars in the holy water, some sink like veils, some show like fish, the great moon that once was rose now high like a blazing milk flails its white reflection vertical and deep in the dark surgey mass wall river's guiding bed push." - Jack Kerouac from "Maggie Cassidy." - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Nov. 17, 2010
Photo triggers (Nov. 15, 2010)
I sat down recently with my mom and looked at some old photos of when I and my brother and sister were kids, as well as photos from the old Page farm on Alum Creek Drive where my mom grew up.
I was struck by the immediacy of time travel the photos triggered. Looking at the photo of my grandmother Mae Woods sitting in her kitchen made me hear her laugh and feel the warmth of her kitchen that was brought on by Mae's baked goods and good humor.
Pictures of my siblings and me, in our home on Clark Court in Groveport when we were quite young and scrawny, awakened memories in me of the interior of that house I thought were long forgotten - the big picture window where we would tape homemade paper Halloween and Christmas decorations, the coolness of the 1950s era linoleum kitchen floor, and the scraggly Christmas trees from Norm's Market propped up in the living room. It was as though I could step through the photo and be there again.
The dogs of our lives had a knack for finding the camera lense. There was happy Pepper, who I never knew because I was not yet born when that grand dog pawed the earth. Lady, the beautiful blonde cocker spaniel with big round eyes, who if she liked you, you were her friend for life, but if she didn't, well, she would come after you in an unpleasant manner of bared teeth and flailing spaniel ears. Then there was Scrapper, the Norwegian Elkhound, who loved to wrestle and would eat anything except White Castle hamburgers.
More photos of us in our house on Main Street, which we moved to from Clark Court, reawakened my memories of the wonderful built in wooden book cases and, more especially, the fanciful fire place with its red glazed brick and maple frame. There, in a corner of the living room, was the warm air register of the furnace where I would sit on cold, dark December mornings contemplating the oncoming school day in the glow of Christmas tree lights.
Go to that box in your closet or basement and look at your old photos and do some time traveling. The photos are more than a collection of black and white and color images spanning an era. The preserved images visually speak volumes about grand times and small moments. They are reminders. They are storytellers. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Nov. 15, 2010
Turn left at the light (Nov. 10, 2010)
I enjoy it when I'm walking down the street and someone stops their car to ask me for directions. I like playing the role of small town expert and local yokel. I like that when they see me they think I'm trustworthy.
It can get a little tricky at times, such as when someone is looking for Groveport Madison Junior High, which is known in the area by the many different names it has been referred to over the years including, "the old high school" (not to be confused with "the older high school" next door, or the not-so-new 40-year-old "new" high school on Hamilton Road). They may also be looking for Middle School South. So one has to be able to winnow it down from the lost driver just what school they are really searching for.
Over the years I've had lost drivers stop me on Main Street to ask me how to get to: Canal Winchester, Port Columbus, Lancaster, Lithopolis, Greencastle, Columbus, Ashville, Shadeville, Columbus Motor Speedway, Obetz, various cemeteries, and Eastland Mall, among other places.
More specifically they ask me how to find a particular street in town. I pride myself on knowing all the streets and alleys in town, but must confess once in a while I'm asked about a street in one of the newer subdivisions and I have to think about it a bit before sending them on to their destination.
I try to give specific directions so I don't get tthe travelers hopelessly lost. In his book, "Travels with Charley," John Steinbeck made note of how usually a local person gives unusable, unreliable directions containing odd reference points to travelers. He wrote many locals express a disdainful disbelief that the outsiders, who have never been in the area before, can be so lost in a place so familiar to the local person. He wrote about one area in New England where the locals entertained themselves by giving people intentionally wrong directions. That just seems like interpersonal vandalism to me.
I keep it simple with easy terms like: left turn, right turn, go straight; and also give them route numbers or street names they can follow on signs instead of "turn left at the big bushy tree by Aunt Marla's place."
Giving directions feeds my ego and makes me seem smarter than I am. It's also a good feeling to see a lost person's relief as they realize they're not as lost as they thought.
None of us are as lost as we think we are.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Nov. 10, 2010
The confrontation (Nov. 8, 2010)
The confrontation occurred on a bright, fall day in 1965.
I was a fourth grader and was late getting out to noon recess because I had dawdled over my lunch. I hurried down the school steps to join in on the chicken fights out in the far field of the playground. (Chicken fights, for the uninitiated, are when a big group of kids get together to do battle with each other on piggy back...the goal is for each piggy back pair to knock over other piggy back pairs, the last pair standing wins. Kind of like a combination of jousting and wrestling.).
I blasted out of the back door of the school and was about to turn the corner when I came face to face with - him. He (let's call him "X") was a big kid for his age who liked to use his size to intimidate, or more accurately, bully other kids.
I never had any problems with X previously. It's like he never noticed me before. But that day he apparently was trolling the playground looking for stragglers when he came across me.
Now, X had a method. He never struck anyone first. He would loom over a person, belittle them, and command and incite them to hit him. That way he could tell the teachers or principal he was defending himself. Somehow it made it okay in his mind.
I stopped short of bumping into X and tried to move around him, but he blocked me and backed me up against the brick school building.
"You ran into me," he said with cold anger.
"No, I didn't," I replied.
"You stupid #*&!," he answered.
I said nothing, didn't move, but kept looking at him.
"You wanna hit me? Go ahead you little #*&!, hit me," he taunted.
I stood there motionless and silent. In my mind I ran through all the things one of my uncles told me once about fighting - how there are no rules, it's you or him, don't hold back, and go for the weak spots.
But I sized up my position and realized I was stuck with my back to the wall and X glowering and towering over me only inches away. So I did nothing.
Surprisingly, that worked. After a minute or so (though it seemed longer) X tired of my lack of any kind of response. He swore at me and walked away.
He didn't come after me any more after that. Once we got into junior high and high school, X channeled his aggression into football and became a good player. At school he remained an intimidating presence and developed a menacing smile. He got into a fight once in a while, but it was always against someone of his own physical stature and he always won. He didn't seem to be as much of a predator towards those weaker than him as when he was younger, but his formidable reputation remained intact.
I didn't cross paths with X again until we were seniors in high school. We had a class together and he sat behind me. Throughout the school year he would often mutter somewhat amusing insults about the teacher or the class' subject matter to me under his breath. It's like he transformed his old taunts into a sandpaper style sarcasm. He seemed to like that at times he could get stifled laughs out of me during class.
I don't know why he never bothered me any more after that confrontation in elementary school. As we sat in that class as seniors, I wondered at times if he remembered our confrontation. Did he respect me for not knuckling under or did he just never give it another thought?
One day, during our last week of high school in 1974 as the class we shared ended, he gave my chair a strong little push while I sat in it.
"See you around," he said.
I never spoke to him again. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Nov. 8, 2010
At the polls (Nov. 2, 2010)
I like to vote. I've never missed an election since I achieved voting age back in the early 1970s.
I enjoy the sensation of being mad with individual power as I make my selections.
"Take that and that and that!" I think as I express my liberty by touching buttons on the voting machine screen - though these new glowing, plastic encased, electronic voting machines don't provide the satisfaction of the ratchety loud "click" of the old lever driven, heavy metal mechanical machines. I also liked how the old machines had the big musty curtain that cloaked you as you voted.
Those sturdy old machines made the vote seem weighty and serious while the new electronic gizmos make you feel like you're ordering something at a fast food place.
My sensation of power madness passes when I leave the polling place and the old song lyric from The Who comes to mind: "Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss."
A single vote is but a pin prick to the political system behemoth. But, we all must remember that enough such pin pricks can maybe bleed the brute. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Nov. 2, 2010
Comment from Kim:Rick, I feel exactly the same way as you do about voting (At the Polls, Nov. 2). �And I absolutely refuse to vote by Absentee ballot which seems to be the popular thing to do these days (at�least while I am still healthy and able enough to get to the polls). �Now I love new technology and usually embrace it with open arms and mind �But I have to admit I really don't care much for the electronic voting machines �I know we can't stop progress but, at the sake of sounding like an old fuddy-duddy, give me back the old massive voting machines--let me pull the large handle that closes the curtain around me where I truly feel I am surrounded by privacy (and not feel rushed by the peering eyes of others in a hurry to cast their vote); let me hear the clanking sound as I pull each lever, assuring me I have cast each and every vote I am entitled to make. �Let me reopen the curtain and exit, walking past my fellow citizens smiling and proud that I once again exercised my right and civic duty as an American...a right that so many before me fought to ensure that freedom. �A right I will continue to exercise until the day I die....on whatever new-fangled contraption exists at the time. � � � � � ��
Random thoughts (Oct. 28, 2010)
A clearing of the head of random thoughts:
•When members of the Rolling Stones fight with each other it seems cooler than when the Beatles used to snipe at one another.
•I like that, in this incessently high tech age, people still place old fashioned election campaign yard signs on their lawns. It's interesting to see who puts whose sign in their yards and that people still have faith the signs could have an impact on an election.
•I know what the stodgy old, corporate driven NFL (aka "No Fun League") needs...it needs the wild and woolly, colorful AFL! Before the merger between the two pro football leagues in 1970, the AFL had a reputation for a freewheeling spirit and high scoring games. The NFL today seems more like one of those dull seminars one has to attend at work or school.
•My foremost driving pet peeve: people in front of me who are turning right... ever...so...sloooowwwwllly!
•Over the years, the ground underneath the shed in my backyard has been the home of several families of rabbits, possums, and now a fat groundhog. I wonder if, in the animal world, the underground den there is seen as a palatial mansion, comfortably middle class, or a low rent apartment? - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Oct. 28, 2010
Up on the roof (Oct. 25, 2010)
A few days ago I was riding my bike down the street just as evening was setting in when I looked up and saw two friends of mine sitting atop their front porch roof.
When I asked them why they were up there they replied they wanted to see what it was like, which I thought was a good answer.
I have a similar front porch roof to theirs and in the many years I've lived in my house I've never gone out and sat on my front porch roof. That's because I don't like heights and being on a roof is not something I seek out. A stepladder is plenty high for me.
But I thought about it and figured I might be able to try this front porch sitting thing. When I got home I went out the window and gingerly crawled out onto the porch roof. Though I was no where near the edge, the roof's pitch made me feel a bit unsteady so I stuck close to peak and the house wall and didn't venture far out on the roof.
I sat down (moving as little as possible because I was certain one false move would send me careening off the roof) and then looked around at my squirrel's eye view of the world. I saw the high locust tree limbs in more detail than one gets from a ground view. The beautiful bark is rugged and one can see the limbs have more color to them (rich reddish browns) than is visible from below.
There are leaves and sticks on the porch roof that will linger there until winter's winds whip them away. The roof shingles are gritty, but I thought that, if they were edible, their texture might be chewy.
As darkness enveloped my roof perch, I looked to the east and saw a big, bright, round full moon easing up into the sky. I thought about how many times I've watched the moon do its dance across the sky. I thought about how that moon shined its light down upon everyone I've ever known and how, though miles and time separates me from them, we can still share the moonlight from our own points on this earth just by looking up into the sky in the night.
The air grew chilly, so I slowly made my way off the roof back into the house, but I noticed my movements were steadier than when I first clambored out.
Like the old song, it was peaceful out there, up on the roof.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Oct. 25, 2010
Jack o' lanterns (Oct. 20, 2010)
The best jack o' lanterns are the scary looking ones.
Pumpkins with snarling, jagged teeth and menacing eyes, preferably with tortured looking pumpkins guts dangling visible on the inside, scream Halloween to me.
I know nowadays there are lots of pretty patterns and arty designs people can carve into their pumpkins, but remember folks, it's Halloween! Things are supposed to look scary.
Jack o' lanterns, which at one time were made from turnips of all things, are based on the old folk tale of a man named Jack who offended both Heaven and Hell and was denied entry to both upon his passing. Instead he was condemned to walk the earth for all time with only a burning coal in a pumpkin to light his way. So Jack O' the Lantern was this creepy guy bathed in an eerie glow that you really wouldn't want to see while trying to find your way home at night.
I recall as a kid one of my favorite things about trick or treating was seeing a glowing jack o' lantern perched on a porch. The flickering light of the fiery candle in the orange pumpkin, casting dancing shadows and illuminating a frightful face, made the night seem wonderfully other worldly. The fire inside the pumpkin and the ghastly visage on the gourd tingles our inner senses in a way that links us to our ancestors with the knowledge there is danger in the dark.
So make your jack o' lanterns scary looking and do old Jack proud. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Oct. 20, 2010
Permanence (Oct. 14, 2010)
Two large, mighty sycamore trees tower near the intersection of College and Cherry streets in Groveport. They are massive trees and I've often wondered how old they are.
I do know that, during my 54 years of life on this planet, these two trees have always been huge, so, I laugh to myself, if I'm old, they've got to be old, too.
I wonder who planted the sycamores? Were they planted in memory of someone or some thing? There once was a Baptist church at this intersection in the 19th century, was there a connection to that? The Presbyterian Church, built in 1853, still stands nearby - do the trees have root there? Could some homeowner long ago have just liked sycamores and planted the trees on a fine day long ago? Maybe the trees, in nature's random way, took root on their own.
I think about what these trees have shaded over the years: Memorial Day parades that solemnly march down College Street to the Groveport Cemetery; somber funeral processions to that same sacred ground; kids scuffing their feet as they walk to school; people strolling to church; and the daily hubbub of traffic that rolls up and down the street.
Were these trees here in the 19th century when College Street was known as East Street on Jacob Wert's original plat for Wert's Grove? Did they border the street when it was a just a dusty path? The homes in this historic neighborhood are older residences - were these houses here before the trees took root?
It's a leafy mystery.
The trees have felt the four seasons roll through each of their many years, absorbing the fresh rains of spring, the steamy heat of summer, the bright days of fall, and the winds of winter.
People and buildings have come and gone, but the two trees remain, keeping each other company through the years.
These sycamores are monumental, but they are even better than that because, unlike stone statues, the trees are alive, their growth is their permanence. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Oct. 14, 2010
Apple Butter Day observations (Oct. 12, 2010)
The 37th annual Apple Butter Day in Groveport has come and gone. I spent most of the day Oct. 9 at the festival and jotted down these observations:
•It was most likely the hottest Apple Butter Day ever with temperatures in the high to mid 80s with brilliant sunshine in a cloudless sky. It was a harvest festival taking place on what seemed like a summer day.
•No yellow jackets! I didn't see a single one of the pesky stingers, who like apple butter as much as we do. Usually one has to be vigilant before chomping into a slice of warm bread and apple butter to make sure a yellow jacket hasn't perched there helping itself to the tasty treat. Not this year though.
•I always have the bean soup and cornbread every year for lunch at the festival. This year's batch of bean soup was the best yet, peppery and thick. Add in a chunk of golden cornbread and that's a hearty meal. I took mine outside and sat under a shade tree to watch the crowd mill about.
•The crowd was huge. Bigger than I can ever remember seeing. People arrived early and stayed longer it seemed and more people joined in throughout the day.
•Usually the festival crowd thins when the Ohio State football game starts on TV. That didn't seem to happen this year. Maybe it's because the Buckeyes were playing hapless Indiana. I did note a pick up truck was pulled up to Wirt Road with a big TV in the back tuned to the Buckeye game and people would wander over to check out the score, but they didn't linger at the TV screen.
•The Civil War re-enactors of the 76th Ohio are a nice addition to the festival. They put on a good show and are knowledgeable historians.
•I liked the acoustic music performances by all the musicians, but I especially enjoyed the tunes played by "Delightful Sounds," made up of Priscilla Hewetson on violin and Ellen Ford on the hammer dulcimer. Melodic and precise, their playing swirled the listener back in time.
•Egad! I forgot to enter the quilt raffle this year! I always entered in the past (though I have never won), but somehow got distracted this year.
•Didn't see many politicians campaigning on the grounds this year.
•I saw many old friends, newer friends, and family.
•Everyone seems to smile on Apple Butter Day.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Oct. 12, 2010
The tracks (Oct. 6, 2010)
On an early October afternoon that was doing its best imitation of a gray day in mid-November, I went for a walk around town.
I was headed no place in particular, but ended up at the railroad tracks on the north edge of town. I reached the tracks at College Street and remembered a groaner of an old joke an old friend once told me when we were flying over these tracks in my car on the way to basketball practice in 1973:
"Train's been here," he said.
"How can you tell?" I asked as the duped straight man.
"There's its tracks!" he replied.
I noted the silvery shine of the tracks was not dimmed by the cloudy day. I took the shine as a good sign because that meant the tracks still had steady train traffic, the steel wheels burnishing the rails to keep the relentless rust from engulfing them.
Steady train traffic may be stretching it though, as I think only one train comes through town in the morning, heading southeast, and quite possibly the same train comes back later in the day heading back to Columbus.
When I was a kid, trains rolled through town regularly throughout the day. When not otherwise occupied with what back then seemed like some vitally important kid things - playing ball, bug watching, hammock tossing - we neighborhood kids would hop on our bikes and head for the tracks when we heard a train coming. We'd watch the train with its long line of freight cars rumble, wobble, groan, and creak along the tracks. We'd count the cars and watch for the caboose. Now there are no cabooses and the train that comes through town is short, pulling just a few cars. These days I still like to watch it go by if I am lucky enough to see it.
I turned my walk east and walked along the tracks to the old railyard, which once bustled with a depot and grain elevators - now all gone.
I sat in the grass where the depot once stood and listened to the quiet. Just the wind rustling the grass and whipping around the old three story brick warehouse on the other side of the tracks. In faded paint on the warehouse is still printed, "Groveport, O.," which tells the railroaders, as it has for decades, what town they are passing through.
Where I sat was once a hub of activity in town. Farmers bringing grain to the elevators for shipping by rail. Passengers milling about the depot waiting for a ride to Columbus, or to Canal Winchester, or to Lancaster, or beyond to the wider world.
Few things are as ingrained in the American psyche than the railroad. I walked up to the tracks and looked both directions. The rails reaching off into the distance. Still calling to us. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Oct. 6, 2010
Comment from Kay: Loved your track story. I grew up in Southern Ohio where a train passed several times a day within sight of the house and just down the road was a depot where they tossed out the mail bag for many years - for the grocery stores nearby that had a post office within. I wish they would take better care of the tracks on Front St. When I lived on Front St. in the 1960's and 1970's I broke a windshield on them and a driver must still be really careful when crossing them. At the time I was told that the village was in no way responsible for them - only the railroad people. Oh well. :o)
See Canal Winchester as it once was (Sept. 29, 2010)
A good way to get to know one's community is to learn more about its past.
With that in mind, I highly recommend you attend the Canal Winchester Area Historical Society's annual Historic Ghost Tour on Oct. 1 & 2 at 6:30 p.m.
Walking along the town's historic streets as twilight settles in feels like you're stepping through a shadowy portal in time, a feeling that is accentuated by the costumed actors portraying figures from Canal Winchester's past during the event.
Tour stops this year include a variety of locations and stories including: the Madison Grange Hall #194, built in 1874; Prentiss School, where costumed schoolchildren will partake of lessons in a one room schoolhouse built in the 1850s; the Leonard House, built in 1879 as a hotel; the Miller Furniture Store built in the 1850s as a furniture store and undertaking business; Gayman's Store built circa 1851; the site of the original Heffley House, now the location of a Tudor Revival home; two homes on West Mound Street, one an example of the small brick A-frame homes built by families of German heritage in the 1870's and the other a house built in 1877 as a parsonage for the United Brethren Church.
The tour begins at the Canal Winchester Area Historical Society's history complex, located at the corner of North High and Oak streets. This complex itself features the wonderfully restored "Queen of the Line' railroad depot and the restored O.P. Chaney grain elevator, built in 1887.
The 90 minute tours are conducted by volunteers. The first group begins the tour at 7 p.m. and the last group departs no later than 7:30 p.m. For anyone needing help getting from site to site, Canal Winchester Human Services will provide a van both evenings.
Tickets are $10 for adults; $5 per student age 6-18; and children under age 5 admitted free. For tickets, call (614) 833-1846 or (614) 837-8400. Tickets will also be available the nights of the tours at the railroad depot at the Historical Society Complex on North High Street.
Come on out and see Canal Winchester as it once was. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Sept. 29, 2010
Spider town (Sept. 27, 2010)
My basement looks like a cheap haunted house with silvery/gray cobwebs draping from the corners and windows.
The presence of elaborate spider webs is not intentional on my part, but instead is nature taking its course as my eight legged friends seek refuge from the coming winter in my dank, dark, old basement. Looking at the the webs closely reveals they are architectural masterpieces of intricate design and beauty. The fibers are both strong and delicate at the same time.
I've made it a practice in my life not to kill spiders because I think of them as my bug ally since they eat other insects who may try to invade my home via the basement. The spiders tend not to inhabit parts of the basement that I frequent, instead keeping to the dingy corners and the old coal bin. I leave the spiders alone and they leave me alone. A detente of sorts.
If a spider ventures upstairs, I scold him, remind him of our pact, and take him outside.
This year the usual array of arachnid is taking up residence in the underground lair. There are big, bulbous spiders, little scurrying spiders, and medium sized, seemingly pragmatic spiders who string their webs in the best spots to catch bugs.
By spring most of them will crawl back to great outdoors and their vacated, weary webs will be swept away with the broom of spring cleaning. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Sept. 27, 2010
Farm field (Sept. 22, 2010)
The beans are being harvested and the corn soon will be.
One of the things I enjoy about my frequent bicycle rides as I head out to Three Creeks Metro Park is watching the farm field along the the Groveport bike path change with the season.
As winter waned last February and March, the field was brown and stubbly with the remnants of the previous fall's harvest. Blackbirds picked at what they could still find to eat on the ground. Looking to the east on a morning ride, I could easily watch the sun creep up on the new day over the open vista of the field.
Spring brought warmth and shoots of corn and beans, transforming the field from mud brown to a soft green. As spring rolled into the heat of summer, I saw the occasional deer tip toeing among the growing plants in the field as it headed for the tree line. Groundhogs wobbled along the fence row.
With the summer sun, the corn grew fast and tall, replacing the vista with a deep natural green wall along the bike path. The beans grew bushy and full. The bike path became a shady tunnel of corn and beans on one side and the fence row tree line on the other.
By August, a couple of small "dents" appeared in the tall wall of corn where deer gracefully leaped the fence to munch on some ears of corn. Some morning glories flowered along the fence and on some cornstalks. Volunteer corn could be seen sprouting in the bean field.
The green of the beans and corn swiftly turned brown as September rolled in. The once fresh, flexible leaves taking on the texture of old paper.
The plants have done their task and brought forth a bounty of ears of corn and bushels of beans. On a golden, late September afternoon, the farmer's combine cut swaths through the field gathering in the harvest and restoring the vista for another view of the coming winter sunrises. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Sept. 22, 2010
The old track and gridiron (Sept. 15, 2010)
It sprang up in the midst of the Great Depression of the 1930s as a gift from the Groveport Madison High School classes of 1929-33 and for many years was considered one of the finest high school track and field facilities in Central Ohio.
The track complex was built around the Cruiser varsity football field (that gridiron itself moved to behind what is now the junior high and replaced by baseball fields around 50 years ago). Located just west of what is now the Groveport Elementary School (formerly the high school) playground, the track and field complex boasted a fine quarter mile cinder track; high jump, broad jump, and pole vault pits; and areas for shot put and discus. It was home to Cruiser track teams until the mid-1970s.
However, through the natural progression of life and time, and the creation of new facilities at the current high school, all that remains of the track and field complex are the concrete discus circle; the shadows below the grass of the asphalt high jump, broad jump, and pole vault runways; and the grass choked cinder track and a few of its embedded wooden borders.
From aerial views the outline of the old quarter mile cinder track can still be seen.
On a recent bright September day, I walked the grounds with Groveport resident Ed Rarey, who played football and ran track for the Cruisers in the 1940s at these former athletic facilities.
"It was one of the best tracks around at the time," remembered Rarey. "A lot of the schools back then either had smaller, fifth of a mile tracks or none at all."
He said the old football field inside the track stood out locally because it had lights, which later were moved to become the lights at the large baseball diamond nearby and have since been removed altogether for safety reasons due to their age. Rarey said the football games drew good sized crowds who stood to watch the games from the sidelines, from the higher perch of the sidewalk leading to the school, or along Wirt Road.
"We wore leather helmets then and not much other padding," recalled Rarey.
Walking through the complex with Rarey it felt like it could have been 1945 as he easily pinpointed where the field events were held for track meets. At another point he gently kicked at the grassy ground with his foot and said, "There's part of the wooden board that was the track's border."
Digging a little deeper with the toe of his shoe he uncovered the cinders of the track.
These days, it's nice to see the grounds are alive with the energy of today's youth with baseball games and other activities, but it's also good to know that, just below the surface, the spirit of the youths of the past linger in bright memory. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Sept. 15, 2010
The Piano (Sept. 13, 2010)
When Todd Boggs gently pressed the keys of the baby grand piano, the rich, fullness of its notes filled the air of the Groveport Elementary Auditorium with a warm sound.
The fine, old piano, made by the renowned Henry F. Miller Company of Boston and valued between $3,000 to $4,000, was donated to the school in June by the Lancaster Fraternal Order of Elks.
"It's a perfect fit for our historic, restored auditorium," said Boggs, who is principal of Groveport Elementary.
Boggs said the school will use the piano for programs, music classes, student talent shows, and other performances. The piano will be situated on the floor below the front of the stage.
"We're really appreciative to the Elks for donating the piano to us," said Boggs, who added the school district's public relations coordinator Chris Bowser was "instrumental" in helping the school obtain the piano.
The finely tuned piano, with its polished wood and bright keys, is both a visual and aural work of art.
"It's a beauty," said Groveport Madison Superintendent Scott McKenzie. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Sept. 13, 2010
The gatherings (Sept. 8, 2010) Being a small town guy I attend a lot of small town festivals - from Groveport's Apple Butter Day to the Lithopolis Honeyfest to Canal Winchester's Labor Day, as well as other smaller scale events throughout the year.
Each of these festivals has its own charm, special foods, and unique events. But, as I was wandering around the Canal Winchester Labor Day Festival this past weekend, I noticed the primary activity people were engaged in was sitting (or standing) around talking, smiling, and laughing with each other.
That's a great thing all these festivals have in common - they bring people together. That is a testament to the power of community. The festivals provide a relaxed atmosphere and welcoming open space to gather. They are places where one can see friends and neighbors, as well as meet new people, face to face. In our overwhelming technological world, personal contact is dwindling. These festivals help shore up fading personal ties and reinforce our humanity.
At these events, people take over the streets from cars and trucks. At these events, you don't need your computer or cell phone to talk to someone, they are right there in front of you. At these events, you can hug someone, pat them on the back, and say, "Good to see you."
Few things are more valuable than that. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Sept. 8, 2010
The bat (Sept. 1, 2010)
Last evening I thought I'd go sit on the front porch and watch the twilight blend into the night. But an unexpected visitor stopped me as, when I opened my front door, I came eyeball to eyeball with a furry brown bat clinging to my outer screen storm door.
At first glance the bat seemed like a furry blob stuck on the door. So I stepped back, tilted my head as those of us geezers with bifocals do when we want to see up close, and focused.
Yep, it's a bat.
Now, I'm a fan of my fellow mammals - particularly ill tempered little mammals like badgers, wolverines, skunks and and the like - so the bat didn't scare me. I like bats. They are an animal ally because they eat fiendish mosquitoes that plague us all.
I did not disturb the bat, but instead watched him as he clung to the screen. He did not move much as he probably thought of me as some monstrous giant and wondered what I was going to do.
Over a few minutes it seemed the bat got used to me relaxed. He flicked his wings a bit. Then he'd cock his head slightly, looking around. He was a beautiful creature. His fur looked clean, almost like it had been brushed. His wings were a marvel of nature's engineering, looking both powerful and delicate. His claws appeared dainty, yet menacing, poking through the mesh screen.
As I watched the bat, the darkness deepened outside. I thought to myself that maybe the bat was waiting for the light to fade to its liking before making its nightly rounds.
Suddenly, the bat popped off the screen with incredible quickness and, with its wings rapidly flapping, swiftly looped through the air around the porch post, and darted upward through the locust tree branches. I briefly saw the bat silhouetted against the fading sunlight in the western sky, like a Halloween image, before it disappeared into the night. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Sept. 1, 2010
Intentional memory (Aug. 25, 2010)
It was a scoop of vanilla ice cream in a paper cup that came with a small, flat, thin disposable wooden spoon that looked like a mini-canoe paddle.
I carved away at the ice cream, carefully balancing the cool treat on the wooden spoon as I ate so it wouldn't go "splat" on the smooth asphalt walkway in front of what was Groveport Madison High School (now the junior high) on a day in late May of 1967. The ice cream had that dual personality of still being solid at its core but creamily melting at its edges.
I was a kid attending an ice cream social with my family being put on by the Cruiser Marching Band, of which my sister was a member. ("Ice cream social," so quaint sounding, like something out of the straw hatted 1890s.)
In my mind I can clearly see that May day with the cafeteria tables set up outside in front of the school to hold the tubs of ice cream to be dished out. The shiny steel legged tables seemed out of place removed from the tile and brick of the cafeteria. The band members milled about in their "summer" uniform of white shirts and black shorts. The crowd wasn't large, but it was relaxed. People seemed happy, but not boisterous.
Memory is such a compartmentalized thing. I can recall I leaned against one of the white painted, well spaced, short wooden posts that outlined the boundary of the school's courtyard. As I looked over the scene, I thought I should remember the moment of eating that ice cream because, one day, maybe there wouldn't be any more ice cream socials on the broad, grassy front lawn of the school. If I remembered the moment, it could stay alive. I made an intentional memory and it stuck.
There are a few moments from my young life where I made note of something so I would remember it. Often they aren't grand moments, but significant in their simplicity. These are always vivid in my head while other things from the past float around waiting to be plucked from the sea of time when the moment calls for it.
In this case I'm glad I filed this intentional memory because, as it turns out, that building was only a high school for three more years and I don't think there were ever any more ice cream socials on that school lawn since that day. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Aug. 25, 2010
What did the canal look like? (Aug. 18, 2010)
What did the Ohio and Erie Canal look like in Groveport and Canal Winchester?
All we have to go on are old black and white photos from the late 19th and early 20th centuries and a few written accounts.
The banks of the canal were, for the most part, scruffy looking - a mix of mud, grass, weeds, and brush. Here and there were wooden planks used to get on and off the canal boats and maybe a wooden staging platform for loading sat on the bank. Dirt paths lead to the water's edge from town.
In both Canal Winchester and Groveport wooden warehouses, sheds, and other assorted buildings hugged the banks in places. A photo taken of the canal near Groveport's Walnut Street (which appears as a meandering dirt path) shows fenced in areas for hogs and other livestock.
The towpath on the south side of the canal was hardpacked dirt from years of mule and horse hooves pounding it. Tough weeds hugged the towpath's edges
After the canal boat traffic ceased in the 20th century, someone built a makeshift, rickety looking wooden footbridge over the canal at Groveport's Walnut Street.
Formidable iron bridges with stone foundations leaped over the canal - one in downtown Canal Winchester and two in Groveport, at Main Street and at College Street near the cemetery.
The canal water did not flow and tended to be murky and rather foul, especially on a hot, sticky summer day. Toward the canal's last days, folks were known to toss trash into its waters. Hard to believe, but in spite of the condition of the canal's water, people actually were baptized in it.
But I paint too harsh a picture of the canal. On a bright day, the canal water could be a ribbon of blue reflecting the high sky. Wildflowers would bloom along the banks. In the spring and fall, the trees along its route would burst into color. In the winter, the snow would frame the old ditch and give the water a silvery hue.
I imagine riding on a canal boat, as it silently, slowly slipped through the water in the countryside to its destination could have been a peaceful experience.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Aug. 18, 2010
Main Street's changing face (Aug. 11, 2010)
When folks think of history, they often think of people, places, events, and things that happened long, long ago rather than the recent history of our own lifetimes.
In our daily life we're busy and we think the streetscape and people around us don't change much, when in fact they are always changing.
I thought about this and decided to take a walk down Groveport's Main Street and compare it to what it was like in the mid-1960s, following the route I used to take when I came home from Groveport Elementary School each school day - traveling east to west - to see what is different.
Certainly the street itself is wider with fancy streetlights and bricked curbing. But what is most noticeable is the change in the businesses that once lined the street.
Directly across from the school is the rubbled lot of the former Groveport Cleaners (which later was Skip's Ceramics). Beside it is a grassy expanse that once was home to Kermit Alspaugh's "Ken Realty" offices, whose parking lot featured huge boulders that Alspaugh put there to give people something to talk about.
Along that same open grassy lot were previously two gas stations - Rich's Sunoco and Parker's Sohio. I can still hear the "ding ding" sound the cars made pulling into the stations when they rolled over the black rubber trigger cord that announced their arrival to the station attendants.
What is now the Groveport Heritage Museum in Groveport Town Hall was the home of the Groveport Hardware.
The old commercial row of businesses on the south side of Main Street included the Lunch Box restaurant, a furniture store, Ackerman's Drugs (featuring a great turntable of golden cashews, peanuts, and other nuts), an IGA grocery store, and the Birch Tavern. Of these, only the Birch Tavern is still there and it moved next door when its original building burned down in the late 1980s.
On warm days, the front door of the old Birch tavern was left open for air and, as a kid, there was this wonderful forbidden delight of peeking in the darkened bar to get a glimpse of an aspect of adulthood.
At Crooked Alley and Main there was a battered, glass and metal telephone booth with a thick, black pay phone inside. Don't see any of those any more!
Next came Smith's Market, which is now Little Italy. Across the street was the B&J Carry-out - a kid's dreamland with its vast supply of soda pop, candy and Hostess cakes and pies - and Harden's Barbershop.
Near Smith's Market was the well known Bierberg Furniture Store, which is now Go Groveport. Kids would walk along its indented front display windows and look at the various and odd figurines along the inner windowsill. Right next door came Drake's Restaurant, which later became Taylor's Restaurant and is now the Village Hair Shoppe.
Crossing Oak Street, thedignified Darfus Funeral Home, now Myers Funeral Home, came into view.
The red brick Cruiser Inn, a great little homestyle restaurant sat at the corner of Walnut and Main.
One of my favorite places to linger as a kid was the farm implement store at Brook Alley and Main beside the Shell gas station. The farm implement store always had bright, shiny orange Allis-Chalmers tractors on display outside. I favored red Farmall tractors, but the Allis-Chalmers tractors looked great sitting there in the sun tempting you to hop on them and take a ride.
The People's Bank used to inhabit what is now the Huntington National Bank. The exterior of the structure hasn't changed much. I seem to remember there was a small pizza place in what is now the Huntington's side parking lot, but my memory is foggy about that.
Doc Trythall's office, now a pizza outlet, was in the white block building at Brook Alley and Main. I can recall his examination room had shelves of dark brown bottles that I thought were mysterious looking.
A small grocery was next to Trythall's.
At College and Main was Painter's Motor Sales, which is now Tri-Us-Trophies.
From there the trip home from school took me past houses one can still see in place. What's missing are the big shade trees that once canopied Main Street, victims when the street was reconstructed.
Crossing Center Street, then West Street, home was in sight. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Aug. 11, 2010
Comment from Mary: It is sad that there are not businesses down Main Street to bring people downtown to mill around and visit. When people come out of there homes and meet their neighbors, a town becomes more of a community. People get together, help each other, support the community and enjoy where they live. Without businesses to gather around a community can fizzle.
The wonderful language of slang (Aug. 4, 2010)
We use the informal language of slang words everyday. They're colorful, sometimes fun, sometimes crude, words we're comfortable with and understand.
According to wordsmith Stuart Flexner, American slang originates from a wide variety of sources: musicians, the military, the criminal underworld, immigrants, railroad workers, sports, show business, teenagers, college students, financial people, hobos, technical workers, and no doubt many other places.
Slang words can come and go while others have staying power and remain popular. With other slang words, we can see their meanings change.
One of the most common slang words still in use is "cool," whose form the culture adopted from jazz musicians to be a positive description of something or someone we like, as in "That's so cool!" But, according to "The Dictionary of American Slang," at one time "cool" meant "to wait for" and until 1920 also meant "to kill someone."
Leafing through "The Dictionary of American Slang," I found these interesting entries:
• "Gangster" arose in the 19th century and originally referred to politicians. It became more associated with criminals by 1925.
• "Chick" originally referred to "prison food" but by the 1930s was transformed by jazz musicians to refer to attractive women.
• "Dude" used to mean "an overdressed man" or a "man from the city," but now refers to men in general.
• "Wimpy" once meant "a hamburger," based on the character Wimpy from the old cartoon "Popeye." But it now means weakling.
It's the old, no longer in use slang that seems the most colorful and creative to me. Things like:
• "Strawberry patch" - the red caboose at the end of a train. You don't see cabooses any more.
• "Nickel nurser" - a miser.
• "Hoosegow" - a jail, but could also mean an outhouse.
• "Collision mat" - a waffle! (An old navy term.)
The list seems happily endless. I'm glad we cultivate and adopt slang words for everyday use. It's our way of making the language our own. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Aug. 4, 2010
One day in 1840 (July 30, 2010)
She was known for her singing and her father would always recall how he could hear her clear, melodic voice - singing songs she came up with on her own - flowing across the fields from the farmhouse.
At age 18, she was the eldest of the farm family's five children - three sons and two daughters. Of the five children, her parents said she had the strongest spirit and was the most resilient. But one day, a summer fever gripped her. Her body and mind tried to fight it off, but the fever that would not break, broke her. She was gone.
Working farms are places where the natural rhythms must be followed no matter what happens. On the day of her burial, her brothers got up early to do the milking, her sister fed the chickens and pigs. Her mother sat quietly with her body, while her father finished making her wooden coffin.
At noon her father and brothers carried her to the old grain wagon and gingerly placed the coffin on the freshly swept wagon bed. The family, with her father leading the horse that pulled the wagon, walked slowly down the rutted, sunken farm lane to the rolling hills of the north pasture to the small family graveyard.
No one spoke as the wagon creaked its way along the pasture ground to the hilltop graveyard that held the remains of the father's parents, a cousin, and a son who died in infancy, whose graves were marked by stones, nicely carved by her father. Her father had already made plans for her to have a nice, white, carved headstone.
A young couple from the neighboring farm far across the creek came walking over the sun splashed hill to join them at the grave. The father spoke a few, solemn words. Tears gently flowed, but there was no sobbing as the isolated pioneer family was well practiced at taking hardship stoicly.
Her father and brothers, and the young neighbor man, carefully lowered her into her grave, the cool air of the opened earth mingling with the July heat. As her mother, brothers, and sister walked away, her father thanked the neighbors and kindly sent them away. His calloused hands picked up the shovel and he alone began to fill the grave.
When he finished he sat beside the grave and listened. The only sound was the soft wind rustling the pasture grass. He closed his eyes and leaned back, listening to her last song. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, July 30, 2010
Pete Quaife is gone (July 27, 2010)
Pete Quaife passed away recently from kidney failure at age 66.
Who is Pete Quaife you ask?
Quaife was the bass player for the Kinks during their 1960s heyday of hit records ranging from "You Really Got Me," that raucous bit of biting rock that exploded out of radios in 1964 (a song with an almost heavy metal feel...just listen to Quaife's rumbling, roaring bass throb and push that song along); to that both celebratory and melancholy ode to small town and pastoral life, "Village Green Preservation Society," in 1969. He left the band when he tired of the infighting, a curse many bands fall prey to.
The Kinks were part of a wave of bands that hit America during the Beatles led, so called "British Invasion" of the 1960s. Of these mass of bands, it was The Who and the Kinks who stood out to me because they weren't pretty boys, they sounded raw, and they exuded energy.
When people think of the Kinks, it's the talented brothers Ray Davies (singer, songwriter, guitarist) and Dave Davies (lead guitar) who spring to mind while drummer Mick Avory and Quaife linger to the side. It's telling that I'm a fan, yet I still don't know how to correctly pronounce Quaife's last name. But his creative skill is evident whenever you hear a Kinks song from those days.
One of my best memories is hearing "You Really Got Me" blaring out of the tinny loudspeaker at the old Groveport swimming pool on a hot summer day in 1965. It was one of those fleeting moments of heaven for a 10-year-old kid - splashing in the cool water with beautiful girls everywhere and the Kinks roaring out over the airwaves pulsating the scene.
Thanks for the music, Pete. Here's a quaff to Quaife. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, July 27, 2010
Cornfields (July 21, 2010)
Did you ever notice cornstalks have toes?
Some people call the thin projections reaching to the ground at the base of a cornstalk "feet," but I think it looks more like the cornstalk is standing on its tiptoes, ready to go skittering across the field if the urge struck.
I know it's the Ohioan in me, but I enjoy looking at cornfields. I like how, in these steamy hot July days ("good corn growing weather," as my farm relatives always said) the towering, deep green cornstalks reach high toward the sky. The height of the cornstalks and the densely planted cornrows form a deep green wall along the roads and bike paths. It's almost like passing through a tasseled tunnel.
Every so often one can see a space in the cornfield of bent stalks where a deer or some other critter has bulled its way in for a meal of corn. It reminds me of what my dad, who grew up on a Madison Township farm, once said when I asked him how they handled animals eating their crops. He told me that when you planted a field, you just figured in that a certain percentage of what grew there was the animals' share since it was their land, too.
When I used to have a backyard garden I always planted more than half of it in sweet corn. Primarily for the wonderful fresh ears of yellow sweet corn to be devoured after being freshly picked, cooked, buttered and salted. But secondly because it meant I could have my own mini-cornfield in the yard to enjoy.
One year, to be exotic, I planted sweet corn seeds that were descendants of seeds developed by Thomas Jefferson at his Monticello estate long ago. (Okay, to this midwesterner, corn seeds from Virginia seem exotic.)
The Jeffersonian corn seeds took to the Ohio weather and soil and by harvest time the cornstalks were nearly 12 feet high! A formidable sight. I thought this was going to be some mighty sweet corn!
It could be chalked up to my midwestern provincialism, but the corn these towering Jeffersonian cornstalks produced, while tasty, didn't measure up to me to the full, rich taste of Ohio sweet corn.
Crunching into a cob of Ohio yellow sweet corn brings to mind every county fair you've ever been to, every breath of fresh country summer air you've ever taken, and every bountiful farm field you've ever seen.
I don't garden any more, but I always enjoy watching the cornfields as they grow from spring's shoots to summer's green towers to fall's fading stalks. I revel in August's welcome corn.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, July 21, 2010
The pencil (July 14, 2010)
I think people secretly love pencils.
Ballpoint pens, felt tip pens, and electronic keyboards are great and we use them happily and effectively. But check any desk and there's always a wooden pencil or two handy.
After crayons, wooden pencils are probably the first thing we learn to write with, so we form a bond with them at an early age, especially the traditional yellow painted ones.
Think how often wooden pencils are successfully given away as attractive promotional items or for advertising. Recently, as part of Madison Township's bicentennial, I was given a box of 144 wooden pencils, emblazoned with wording recognizing the township's 200th birthday, to give away. In less than a week people quickly snatched up most of the pencils.
Pencils are a forgiving writing instrument. If you make a writing mistake, you just flip the pencil over and erase the offending marks and start over.
Most pencils are made of wood and graphite - natural substances that feel good to the touch and rest easily in the hand, making for easy gliding over paper as you write.
Pencils were originally little, fine brushes. By 1564 graphite pencils encased in wood appeared, I think in Bavaria at first. By the late 1700s the wood pencil was refined into a smooth writing instrument.
Images of people writing from those olden days invariably show the writer using a quill pen and ink. Quill pens seem like a hassle. Dip the pen in ink, scritch and scratch for a bit, then dip again. With pencils you write until the lead needs sharpening, which would seem to last longer than dealing with a quill pen running on empty.
I wonder if our ancestors used pencils more often than is depicted? Were quill pens more for show and permanent documents? Was it economics - a pencil being cheaper than pen and ink?
I know that many of the old letters I have on file in the Groveport Heritage Museum are almost all written in pencil.
Pencils are primarily made of red cedar because it is easy to sharpen. At first people used knives and such to sharpen their pencils. It took until 1847 for someone to invent the traditional manual pencil sharpener. The modern style eraser tip appeared by 1858.
A writer who goes by the name "Sparrow," noted in a recent article in "The Sun" magazine that, while pens and such get used up until they're empty, many people give up on pencils before they are sharpened down to a stub of their former selves. He said these poor pencils get tossed away while they are still useful, essentially getting buried alive in a landfill somewhere.
My pencils don't meet that fate. They live long, full lives as I write with them until there is nothing left to sharpen. By then the eraser is worn away and the wood and graphite written and ground away. The pencil is then a ghost whose spirit lives on in the words and marks it left behind.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, July 14, 2010
Frank Ryan (July 12, 2010)
Today is Frank Ryan's birthday. Who is Frank Ryan you ask?
He's the last Cleveland Browns quarterback to lead the team to a NFL championship waaaayyy back in 1964 in the pre-Super Bowl days. Yes, plain old NFL championships existed before there were excessively hyped Super Bowls.
I was nine-years-old in 1964 and thought the Browns were so good back then that they'd never lose again! Ah, to be young and stupid!
Ryan is now 74. He wore number 13, which I thought was so cool because it meant he didn't care about any of the superstitious junk surrounding the number. I wasn't a football player, but I was a basketball player and I wore number 13, like Ryan, because I thought it made a nice statement about thumbing one's nose at the myth of the number being unlucky.
When people remember the Browns of that 1960s golden era they rightfully recall that they were Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown's team. Brown propelled the team to wins with his powerful and fast running style.
But I also think Ryan deserves more credit. After graduating from Rice University in Texas, Ryan played in the NFL from 1958 to 1970 (with the Browns from 1962-68). It was with the Browns he had his best years having seasons where he threw 25 (twice) and 29 touchdown passes. Ryan was also known as a cerebral quarterback, backed up by the fact he earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from Rice. When's the last time an NFL quarterback could claim those kind of academic credentials?
Ryan's finest hour was in the Browns' 27-0 shellacking of the Baltimore Colts (who were thought by many to be unbeatable at the time) in the 1964 title game where he threw three touchdown passes to Gary Collins.
Happy birthday Frank Ryan. May the Browns somehow stop their bumbling and one day again reach the heights you achieved.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, July 12, 2010
Hometown (July 8, 2010)
A recent conversation I had with a member of the Groveport Heritage and Preservation Society (GHPS) prompted me to think about what makes up a community.
This GHPS member helps conduct history programs for Groveport Madison school children at the log house in Heritage Park during the school year. These programs present Groveport history as well as give the students a taste of what it was like to live in a log house in the 19th century.
She told me a teacher from one of the schools located outside the village limits told her the programs were wonderful in many ways, but also one way in particular in that the students from her school "have no town of their own" and learning about Groveport history gives the kids a sense of identity and a sense of community.
Groveport, Madison Township, and Groveport Madison Schools have been intertwined from their inception in the early 19th century. For both economic and social support, the township farms relied on the village of Groveport and the village relied on the farmers...and everyone went to Groveport Madison Schools. The schools were, and remain, the shared common experience for many who live in the area.
The natural tendency for many people in the area when asked where they are from has always been to answer, "I'm from Groveport." That's still true today no matter what other governmental jurisdiction in the school district or subdivision they reside in.
I think this is a good thing. People need a hometown to identify with. It gives one a sense of place. It establishes roots, permanence, and geographical reference. Having a hometown provides a shared history and common future.
One can remain proud of living in Madison Township, be proud of being a part of the Groveport Madison school district, be proud of one's neighborhood, and still call Groveport your hometown.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, July 8, 2010
Dumbfounded (July 6, 2010)
"Dumfound" or "dumbfound?"
My fellow editors and I were debating how to spell the word recently and we couldn't reach a consensus. So we decided to look it up.
Whitney reached for her magical cell phone, which probably has more computing power than the first spacecraft that landed on the moon, and promptly called up a digital dictionary.
My reflexive, old school response, was to immediately discount as inferior any dictionary that would pop up on a cell phone screen instead of a printed page.
"I'm getting a real dictionary," I said as a reached for my thickly bound, 1,500 page traditional dictionary.
"This IS a real dictionary," Whitney replied about her cell phone reference, with a tone reflecting her usual youthful amusement at my 20th century ways.
We both looked up the word quickly and found that "dumbfound" could also be spelled "dumfound."
It was then I realized I was dumbfounded. Whitney was right. She did have a real dictionary, just in a new technologically modern and compact form. The information, the knowledge, is the same, just presented digitally. In my older brain when I thought "dictionary," I saw a big book my fingers would leaf through. In her younger mind, Whitney saw a digital image on a screen that could appear with a few taps of the finger.
Both her cell phone reference source and my big bound dictionary have their place and are tools we can use. They are both to be embraced I think.
Whitney is a lover of both traditional books and the new technology. I will never give up books, but this experience shows me I need to become better friends with the 21st century.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, July 6, 2010
Summer day 1966 (July 1, 2010)
A mid-July morning in 1966.
The echoes of Fourth of July firecrackers long gone. Autumn and school still a distant threat as the wide open hot days of summer seemed wonderfully endless.
Three neighborhood kids, sitting around on metal garbage cans propped against the house, talking about nothing, talking about everything.
Would we play "war" today? Would we play baseball? Did you see the Riddler on "Batman" last night?
"Let's get on the hammock," one of us said.
The free standing canvas hammock stood in the yard of a neighbor couple with no kids our age. For some happy reason, the older couple never seemed to care that we neighborhood kids often ran wild through their yard.
"Yeah, let's mess with the hammock," said another.
We walked across the yard to the neighbor's, the dew, still thick on the grass, soaked our canvas sneakers clear through. Being kids, we didn't care.
The hammock was supported by a curved metal frame. Its structure allowed it to become a makeshift carnival ride. One of us would climb into the hammock while the other two would pull down on one end making the other end rise perpendicular to the ground, so it looked sort of like a ship about to sink into the sea.
Once at full height, with the rider grasping the edges of the canvas hammock to stay in it, the two would let go of the frame causing the hammock to swiftly fall backward and then rock jarringly back and forth to a halt, creaking and jangling the whole time. All the while, whoever was in the hammock bounced with each jolt and hung on while their internal organs jostled.
We did this several times, with each of us getting a ride. How we never broke this hammock is a mystery to me. How we never broke each other is a bigger mystery.
All we knew was the day was off to a great start.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, July 1, 2010
Lock walk (June 30, 2010)
Groveport is rich in Ohio and Erie Canal history.
On July 6 at 6:30 p.m., Tina Dillman of the Groveport Parks and Recreation Department, will lead a "Walk to the Lock," a short nature walk to Ohio and Erie Canal Lock 22 in Groveport. Those interested in taking the tour should meet in Groveport's Blacklick Park.
If you take the tour, or just want to take a quiet walk through the area on your own sometime, here are some things you can watch for:
•The canal channel in Blacklick Park looks as though it could still hold water. The ditch is still well formed.
•Blacklick Park itself was once the site of a canal boatyard and dry dock that was considered one of the best south of the Licking Summit. The boatyard built and repaired canal boats.
•The canal towpath was on the south side of the canal and is now overgrown. The path one walks to Lock 22 is actually the former Scioto Valley Traction Line interurban electric trolley right of way.
•As you walk the trolley right of way, you'll notice to your right two ditches - the one furthest away is the canal, the one closest to the path is where dirt was dug to build the interuban path foundation.
•Once at Lock 22 take note in the distance that you can see where several modes of transportation pass through one area: the railroad, the interurban, the canal, Groveport Road, and Little Walnut Creek. This is a common thing as transportaton routes tend to follow old waterways.
•On top of Lock 22 you can see the groove marks from the hinges that once held the oaken doors that controlled the water flow into the lock.
•Canal locks raised and lowered canal boats to meet the changing terrain. The Groveport lock is the last one before a series of locks in Lockbourne.
•Lock 22 is about 90 feet long and its canal channel about 15 feet wide. Just barely wide enough for a canal boat to fit through.
This is just a shorthand version of what you will see on the walk. As you stroll through the woods along the canal, try to imagine what the land was like 100 years ago: a canal filled with water that looked smooth as glass, farm fields opening up beyond the canal, water gushing through the lock spillover, the clomping of the hooves of the canal mules as they towed a canal boat, workers busy in the boatyard, and the canal itself, a silvery thread passing through the village. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, June 30, 2010
Street art (June 24, 2010)
We pass by, and miss seeing, great examples of urban industrial art every day as we whoosh along in our cars.
But, if we're out walking or biking and take the time to look around, we can find art in unlikely places. I found it on old metal storm sewer and manhole covers.
I particularly like one storm sewer cover from the 1930s along College Street in Groveport that is covered with galaxy of small stars. Stars!
Other manhole cover designs I found while walking through Groveport and Canal Winchester include: the dots, the sunburst, the spokes, the squares/diamonds, and the waffle. (There are several variations of the raised dot pattern.) I like how the designs give such heavy objects a light flair.
The designs don't serve any functional purpose (except for "the waffle" and "the spokes," which allow openings for drainage). The decorations are there to be appreciated and to prettify a lid that is concealing what's gurgling in the murky waters below.
You don't often see elaborate artistic decorations such as these on more modern utility coverings. Just like how older buildings are more ornate than newer buildings, the older a manhole cover is, the more elaborate its artwork. I like that in the past people thought it was worthwhile to do this. In our modern world, changing tastes and budget constraints dictate that such flourishes are not necessary nor practical.
I tend to favor the abstract and geometric images that appear on the covers. I'm not a fan of the covers, usually modern ones, that are simply stamped with a municipality's seal. Seal imprinted covers are not as interesting or as fun. They're like boring state flags emblazoned with state seals or crests that aren't as pleasing to the eye as those with big, bold colorful symbols. Seals and crests, while fine for official documents, are too bureaucratic for street art.
I'm not alone in appreciating manhole cover art. A quick search on the Internet uncovered a variety of Web sites from all over the world dedicated to manhole cover art. (Just "Google" "manhole cover art" and see what you find!) Some of the metal covers from the big cities are amazing to see. The bigger the city, the more elaborate the art on the manhole covers appears to be.
Next time you're out and about for a walk around your neighborhood, look down and see the art beneath your feet. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, June 24, 2010
Summer sights (June 22, 2010)
Part two of my summer reverie (I wrote about summer sounds on June 21) involves some summer sights I annually associate with the long, hot days.
The first thing I watch for are lightning bugs in the early evening. This year I saw the fireflies on June 10, which is the same day I spotted them last year. I like to watch the lightning bugs float about blinking their yellow light in the night. They remind me of one of the first books I read as a little kid called, "Sam and the Firefly," about an owl and a mischievious lightning bug.
Other summer sights I've noted:
•Beaten up, grass stained shoes on the back porch that still have flicks of cut grass clinging to them. Don't we all have an old pair of shoes that get relegated to the task of being worn while we cut the grass? It beats throwing them away.
•The fully leafed trees silhouetted against the sky at sundown that reach up in the sky shadowed inky black against the glow.
•Fireworks are a summer staple. What I like to watch for are the spidery puffs of smoke that linger and float in the sky after the skyrocket has exploded and burned its powder.
•Come August, when summer starts to wane, I look for the tall, sturdy purple ironweed wildflower to rise up in the meadows. Last year I saw my first ironweed bloom on Aug. 1. I like how the bright purple bloom of the ironweed stands out among the yellow and gold of the other late season wildflowers, defying the frost ahead to just try and dim it.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, June 22, 2010
Comment from Jo: A page from your "notebook" acts as an anecdote to hectic, cluttered days and always brings a reminiscent smile...
Summer sounds (June 21, 2010)
It's the first day of summer and with it comes the sounds I associate with the season.
These are some of the sounds I can readily hear at my home with the windows gladly opened to the summer air:
•On still Saturday evenings in the summer I can hear, from several miles away, the muffled revving and roaring of the stock cars at Columbus Motor Speedway.
•The mournful sound of the horn of the freight trains as they approach railroad crossings rambling down the tracks that extend from Columbus to Southeast Ohio. On a really quiet evening I can hear the faint horn at the Alum Creek Drive crossing. Then, minutes later and a bit louder each time, I hear the horn as the train approaches Bixby Road, Hendron Road, College Street, and Front Street as the train rumbles east to Canal Winchester. As the train enters Groveport the clickety clack of the steel wheels on the tracks rhythmically fills the air. There aren't many trains that come through town these days. But the sound of the train's horn at night seems like poetry.
•In the heat of the summer come the buzzing of the cicadas. Last year I heard my first cicada buzz on June 27. Their songs can be heard from quite a distance. The buzz seems like a summer anthem. Just thinking of the cicada's buzz in dark, cold January can make one feel the sizzle of July's air on one's skin.
•Lying in bed on a summer's night sometimes there is heard a low rumbling hum to the south of planes as they taxi on the runways at Rickenbacker Airport. It sounds like the bass line to an old blues song.
•Sirens from emergency vehicles wailing in the distance are more audible in summer. Sure, sirens are a year round thing, but they just seem clearer, more piercing, and unexplainably more urgent in the summer.
•In the warmth of summer people emerge from their homes and reclaim the streets and yards from winter. Their voices - some conversational, some the squealing laughter of kids playing, some calls for pets to come - add to the life of the season. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, June 21, 2010
Rut (June 16, 2010)
It's so easy to fall into a rut.
Fall is even too active a word for life in rutdom. It's more like easing into a rut. It's so effortless to do. It just involves letting routine take over, putting one's brain on automatic pilot, and making little effort to do much more than one has to do.
Being in the rut is deceptively comfortable. Conflicts are reduced, lethargy lingers, and stagnation sets in.
In other words, being entrenched in the rut causes one to stop living and creates a state of merely existing.
That's where I found myself lately and I didn't like it. I wondered how becoming enveloped in the rut happened and I could not pinpoint when my existence in the rut began.
I began to perceive little things which triggered the recognition of my rut. I hadn't had a haircut in months and noticed one morning that I looked like a wiry weed gone to seed. I was doing mundane household chores like a machine. I'd go long stretches where I didn't talk to another human being. The TV was on a lot more. My writing seemed to be going a bit flat.
There's no reason for a healthy, normally engaged in life person like myself to be in such a listless place.
So last night I got a haircut. This morning before I went to work I spent some time appreciating my freshly bloomed sea of bright black eyed susans in my yard.
I aim to claw my way out of the rut and try to reignite the spark of life.
Don't let a rut lure you in. Watch for signs of rut in your life and fend them off by feeding your own fire. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, June 16, 2010
Name game (June 10, 2010)
Word has gotten out that General Motors wants its employees, and probably everyone else, to stop using the word, "Chevy," and instead use its product's proper name "Chevrolet."
Is it any wonder the American car industry is suffering with directives like this being issued? Imagine calling the classic '57 Chevy the clumsier sounding '57 Chevrolet. Sacrilege.
It's a great American tradition to shorten formal names into nicknames. It makes both the name and the person using it seem cooler.
Some examples: "Coke" for "Coca-Cola," "CCR" for "Creedence Clearwater Revival," the "Knicks" for the NBA's New York Knickerbockers, the "Stones" for the Rolling Stones, the "Schott" for Ohio State's Schottenstein Arena, "Mac" for MacIntosh's Apple computers, even "GM" for General Motors...the list is endless.
Americans like the personal and the familiar and nicknames serve as a great defroster of icy formality. We will continue to chip away at all frozen facades regardless of directives from on high. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, June 10, 2010
The Cruisers and Broncos (June 8, 2010)
The late Dick Willison, a great guy and good neighbor, often attended Groveport Village Council meetings that I covered for the newspaper. Before the meetings, and during down times in the proceedings, he and I, both former Cruiser basketball players, would talk old time basketball.
Dick played on the great championship Groveport Madison High School varsity basketball teams - along with my uncle Harry Woods, Ken Zarbaugh, and other notable athletes - of the mid-1940s that played in the historic gym in what is now Groveport Elementary.
He told me about how loud the fans could get in that gym, about how players had to be wary of the brick walls that were close to the playing boundaries, and how visiting players were stunned when their corner shots would hit the bottom of the balcony that extended slightly over the court. Fans of the classic basketball movie, "Hoosiers," will understand the atmosphere of old time gyms like this.
A couple of years ago Dick and I, along with some other Groveport folks, were contacted by author Larry Fullen, who was working on a book about the successful Ashville High School basketball teams of the 1940s and was looking for local historical information.
Fullen's book, "The Broncos of 1945," is now published and includes a couple of chapters that highlight five games played between rivals Ashville and Groveport in 1944 and 1945. The book is a good read for both basketball fans as well as those who are interested in small town history and how communities and their citizens interrelate.
The book tells the story of the pursuit of the State of Ohio Class B high school basketball championship by the Ashville Broncos of Pickaway County (now Teays Valley High School). It also describes the experiences of boys growing up in neighboring communities who enjoyed the camaraderie of small town life and basketball.
Quotes from former Cruiser players Zarbaugh and Willison are included. Also highlighted are Groveport history and the source of the Groveport team mascot, Cruiser.
The book is available in paperback (17.95) or hardcover (26.95) through Authorhouse.com; and in paperback (19.95) and hardcover ($29.95) from Amazon.com, and Barnes and Noble.com. For information go to www.LarryFullen.com. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, June 8, 2010
Graduation (June 3, 2010)
On June 9, 1974, I sat between my cousins, Dave and Scott, in a sea of alphabitized, black and red mortarboarded, robe wearing teenagers participating in our final task as Groveport Madison High School students. One last gathering of the tribe in funny outfits. We were graduating.
The ceremony was held on the high school football field, which in my youth was a farm field. The high school on South Hamilton Road was still new then. When we first entered the beige bricked school, the grounds were treeless, the grass was scruffy, and there was chain link fencing. The place looked like a desolate prison farm in a "B" movie. But nowadays the school has that nice weathered look old brick buildings have and the grounds have matured with big, leafy trees and thick grass. It looks downright collegial.
It took decades for me to warm up to that school building. Growing up in the village I had always envisioned myself attending the now former high school on Main Street. This new high school seemed foreign to me in the early 1970s.
Recently I walked around the outside of the high school on South Hamilton Road and kind of re-acquainted myself to it. What came back to me was graduation day.
It was a hot day in 1974 with the ceremony taking place in the late afternoon. As I sat there awaiting my diploma, I remember thinking how graduation seemed anti-climactic. There was much grand talk being made to us by adults about moving on to bigger things and making the world a better place. But graduating didn't seem momentous. What it did feel like, to paraphrase/revise an old U2 song lyric, was like running while sitting still. So much had happened, so much to happen, but nothing much happening.
After the ceremony ended I went home as though nothing had changed, but everything had changed. The following day I would start a summer job at Palsgrove Manufacturing and in September start college. More steps on the ladder.
Since my high school graduation day I have thought that nothing new can be said to pending grads as they sit there in their robes waiting for their last assemblage to end. Nothing can fully express what awaits young people as they venture forth because each person's path is different. We can only encourage them, and ourselves, to be seekers. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, June 3, 2010
Memorial Day 2010 (June 1, 2010)
Memorial Day this year dawned gray and damp. I looked in my backyard and saw my once magnificent pink and white peony blooms now sagging to the ground and beginning to fade. Usually they are in their full glory on Memorial Day, but this year they blossomed early and their work is now nearly done.
Groveport has observed Memorial Day for many, many years with a somber procession down Main Street to College Street and then to Groveport Cemetery where brief services are held.
I'm 54-years-old now and have probably been to more than 40 of the Groveport services. I've always been drawn to the small town simplicity and sincerity of the observance in my home town.
By 1 p.m. the sun had scattered the grayness and the air became steamy. I saw my fellow townsfolk begin to gather along Main and College streets to watch the traditional procession that includes the Groveport Madison High School Marching Band and their gleaming instruments, veterans, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.
The solemn procession hasn't changed much over the years and I like that stability. The band still wears its summer uniform of white shirts and black shorts. As I stood along the street I remembered watching my sister perform in this outfit in the band in the 1960s in this procession.
As the procession passed, people followed behind and filtered into the cemetery's grand gate on Wirt Road and then formed a semi-circle around the memorial area in the cemetery while the band continued to play.
Then came the momentary quiet before the ceremony began. A temporary stillness broken only by the breeze fluttering the trees. I looked around at the flag adorned graves of the veterans in the cemetery. So many of them from so many wars - the War of 1812, Mexican War, the Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam...
The ceremony began with a prayer and a few introductions. The guest speaker Lt. Col. Mark Steven Bean spoke of the solemnity and importance of the day, noting that it is "a testament to our patriotism and love of country."
Scouts laid a memorial floral wreath, then the sharp crack and popping of the 21 gun salute, followed by the mournful sound of taps.
As the ceremony ended, the crowd spontaneously broke out into song, singing a verse from "God Bless America."
Many people lingered in the cemetery, looking at gravestones or quietly standing. I heard parents give short history lessons to their kids as they passed grave markers.
Another Memorial Day had passed. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, June 1, 2010
Bird's eye view (May 24, 2010)
Things definitely look different from above, particularly when one is also looking back in time.
Franklin County Engineer Dean Ringle brought two aerial photos of Madison Township to the township's bicentennial celebration this past weekend for people to view. One photo was from 1938, the other from 2008, and the differences over time in the township's landscape is striking.
In the 1938 photo, neat, rectangular farm fields dominate the land. Interrupting the open fields are the clusters of trees of the farmsteads shading the farmhouses and barns. The meandering creeks seem to pop off the photo. The roads are all either one or two lanes. There's no four lane U.S. 33 and no I-270 slicing through the area.
Many of those fields were filled with homes, businesses, warehouses, schools, and government institutions by the time the 2008 photo was taken. The structures dwarf the creeks. It all looks so orderly from the sky.
Two different eras, both successful in their own way, frozen in time on film - one a pastoral setting; the other an urbanized community.
It happens gradually over time. At ground level, we see the growth absorb space, alter our lives, and the lay the foundation for future changes. Seen from the ground, the changes seem more incremental to our limited view; but from the sky, the new features on the landscape seem sweeping.
If you would like to see the photos, they will be on display at the Madison Township administrative offices, 4575 Madison Lane, Groveport. Call 836-5308. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, May 24, 2010
The scoreboard (May 19, 2010)
The only reminder of the old electric scoreboard that once stood at the west end of the football field behind Groveport Madison Junior High School are the circular concrete pads with square holes for the long gone wooden support poles.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the field, which in the 19th century was the formidable stallion Cruiser's pasture, was the varsity football field for Groveport Madison High School. When I was a kid, my family would walk down Main Street to the games and take up our usual spot standing on the home side near the 10 yard line. There wasn't much seating at the field, except for some weathered portable wooden bleachers on the home side that in the spring and summer were moved to the nearby baseball fields and track before returning back in the fall. So we tended to stand and watch the game.
From our spot, we were close to the big scoreboard. It was rectangular, but nearly a square in shape and stood tall upon wooden posts. Painted mostly black with white lettering for "home," "visitor," "down," "quarter," and "yds. to go," the board's upper right was adorned with a rectangular bright red bar. Unlike modern scoreboards, it did not have a digital clock, but instead had a clock face with a minute and second hand that counted down the time in a whirling motion. Sometimes it seemed the second hand had a mind of its own, as when a time out was called and its momentum would carry it a few extra seconds before stopping.
I liked to watch the scoreboard with its sweeping clock hands, and bright electric light numerals that illuminated the numbers in a curvy style that reminded one of handwritten numbers. I also liked to hear the ratchety clicking of the numbers as they changed.
Being nearsighted, sometimes I would take my glasses off and look up at the field lights (now also gone) and then at the scoreboard. With my blurred vision the field lights atop the poles looked bright as moons and the electric bulbs of the scoreboard like a constellation of stars.
At times during the games kids, bored with watching the varsity play, would start up their own makeshift football game in the grass in the shadowy area behind the scoreboard. They used wadded up concession stand Coca-Cola cups as a ball with the scoreboard serving as a wall between the present and future gridiron stars.
When we used to play basketball on the old asphalt courts beside the football field, we had a rear view of the scoreboard. In the light of day, the back of the scoreboard, with its chunky rusting electric power boxes and twisting cables extending off the metal board, looked like a work of post-modern industrial art.
Big and heavy, the scoreboard seemed like it would always be there. But one day years ago after a potent thunderstorm, I was driving by the field and found that the strong winds of the storm had blown the scoreboard over, twisting its metal and shearing its wooden poles. It was down, never to tally and time again. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, May 19, 2010
History short changed (May 17, 2010)
I've had cable television for nearly a year now. Being a historian as well as a journalist, one of the things I looked forward to viewing via my magical cable was the History Channel.
After a year of shows about pawn shops ice road truckers, and trash pickers, and a seemingly never ending stream of bizarre Nostradamus programs, I must say I am underwhelmed by the History Channel's offerings.
Even when the History Channel programmers try to do a history documentary they can't get it done effectively. For example, just recently I decided to give the History Channel's recent series, "America: The Story of Us" a try and was amazed that their hour long installment on the Civil War didn't even bother to mention the slavery issue until nearly a half hour into the program. Really? You're going to ignore the biggest issue behind the cause of the war?
The History Channel also seems to heavily rely on glitzy computer graphic imagery, undoubtedly to try to add flash and pizzazz at the expense of meaty content. (The recent Civil War program I mentioned earlier had lots of this electronic showboating ranging from slow motion bullets flying through the air to telegraph poles magically popping up in the landscape.) Message to the producers: not everything has to look like a video game.
Nothing on the History Channel can compare to PBS' well researched and pleasingly presented "American Experience" weekly history documentary program. "American Experience" provides context, meaning, and interesting subject matter in a splendid narrative form with well edited visual imagery that blends superbly with the words being spoken. It's serious historical work that is accessible and enriching.
The History Channel should take a lesson. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, May 17, 2010
Cursive on the wane (May 11, 2010)
I never did master writing a capital letter "Q" in cursive (script) handwriting. I gave up on that effort early on in my school days and instead just wrote a capital cursive "O" and stuck a diagonal line in the lower right to make the "Q".
Learning cursive was a rite of passage as a kid. To forego the blocky printing of letters and learn the smooth flowing, stylish "grown up" style of handwriting meant one was moving forward in life and becoming capable of serious thought.
Lately though, cursive handwriting is on the wane as schools have immersed themselves in standardized testing and moved away from teaching penmanship in favor of having kids learn the finger movements of the ever present computer keyboards in our lives.
This saddens me. One's cursive handwriting is like your fingerprint. No one else's handwriting looks exactly like your own. We (those of us who still do handwrite in cursive) all have our own little flourishes and shortcuts we take as we push the pen along the paper.
This bit of individualism is being lost as students these days will spend little, if any time, on learning how to write in cursive.
Granted, there's advantages to the clear and quickly written typed page. It serves us well in the practical world of business, journalism, academics, and other endeavors. The printed word can convey weighty thoughts and enhance communication. I like being able to express myself and share ideas with others through the magic computer keyboard. I like the neat type of books and newspapers.
However, the keyboard can tempt us to spew words, too. The writer Russell Baker once observed that there are 800 page books these days that would have been much better reading if they were 400 page books. He noted it's just too easy to endlessly type away on a computer without even an old typewriter carriage return to make one pause to realize what one is doing.
I also wonder if future students will be unable to read old letters written in cursive when they do historical research in archives; or will the curvy letters on the fragile paper seem like some indecipherable language to them? Will they be able to sign their name?
On a personal level, when communicating to those who are close to us or to those we want to become close to us, words written by hand seem to mean more. Typing on a keyboard is swift and ideas tumble out rapidly, but the appearance is machine like. With handwriting, someone has taken the time to pull out pen and paper and write in a slow and thoughtful manner, in curving letters that evoke warmth, nature and emotion. The slow pace of writing by hand requires one to ponder thoughts. The loss of people's ability to handwrite and read cursive chips away at our identity and humanity.
When I used to be a mailman, it made be happy when I pulled an actual letter with a handwritten address on it out of my mailbag to deliver. I always hoped it contained a handwritten letter because I knew such a thing was a special gift between people.
With the loss of cursive handwriting, that gift, a rare thing in itself, will fade away. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, May 11, 2010
The screens (May 5, 2010)
I've never lived in a house that had air conditioning.
Because of this, an anticipated rite of spring is the installing of the screens in the windows.
There's no set day each spring for the task. One can't be fooled by the early warm days of April because nature always saves a few last smacks of cold to remind us that winter doesn't give up the ghost easily.
There's an intangible tipping point in the weather, when the air is fresh and green abounds, where one can just feel that the warm days have won the climate battle till fall.
Putting in the screens in my boyhood home was a big job (it had a lot of windows), but it was also tinged with some excitement because, if the screens were going in, that meant the school days were dwindling and summer vacation beckoned.
My parents would pull out the heavy wood framed screens from their winter hiding place under the basement steps, brush the spiders away, and lug the screens upstairs to the windows. The heavy glass storm windows were removed, wiped down, and taken to the basement. The screen frames were then popped in.
With the screens in place, the gentle spring breezes flowed through the house chasing away winter's staleness. The screens reconnected us to the outside world as outdoor sounds became clearer.
I still look forward to the spring ritual of putting in the screens now in my current home. It's much easier than in the old days because the screens and storm windows just slide up and down in place, but the meaning and sensations remain the same.
It's early May and usually I have my screens in place by now, but I haven't put them in yet. Partially because our past winter hung on for a long time and I still, deep down, don't trust it won't rear its cold, gray head for one last blast of freezing air.
But I realized another reason I haven't put the screens in yet is, that in years past my old cat, Chessie, would become insistent that it was time to let the spring air in. She would paw the window glass and "rowr" impatiently and that would tell me it was time for the screens. Once the screens were in place, Chessie would spend the summer lolling in the windows, her bushy tail lazily flicking, as she eyed the birds and squirrels outside and caught the breeze.
Chessie died at the grand old age of 19 last summer and so I haven't felt an urgency to put the screens in. I know I'll miss seeing her relaxing at her favorite windows.
But the warm days of light are here and maybe it's time now to open up the house.
I think Chessie would approve. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, May 5, 2010
Cookin' (April 29, 2010)
I'm not much of a cook. It's a wonder I'm still alive.
It's not that I can't cook. Anyone who can read a cookbook (what a great sounding word, "cookbook") or possesses a basic knowledge of how to turn on the stove can make a halfway decent meal.
I'm just too lazy to cook. I don't want to drag out an array of pots and pans and spend time piecing foodstuffs together. I know cooking is a creative act, but I'm not much of an artist either. I want to eat when I want to eat.
I sometimes feel bad for my reasonably well stocked supply of cooking gadgets and gizmos as they languish in cupboards and drawers wishing to get saucy.
But one kitchen appliance gets steady use - the magic black box with the invisible rays - the microwave. It's quick. It's hot. It's radioactive. How more modern can I get?
Granted, my insides probably glow from eating radioactive food, but I'm a child of the 20th century and we of that era learned that radioactivity gives one super powers.
However, I've achieved a balance in my eating by combining modern radioactive blasted frozen entrees with a more primitive hunter/gatherer approach. I supplement my microwaved nutrients with simple caveman foods like nuts, bananas, apples, carrots, blueberries, natural peanut butter, grape juice, almond milk, and bread. So maybe my natural food warriors have enough power to subdue my radioactive food forces once they all enter my stomach and have at it.
Since I don't cook, I don't have supplies of ingredients around. My refrigerator is like an arctic wasteland of open white spaces interrupted in spots with odd containers. Friends have gaped in amazement when they open my refrigerator and see its racks of barren tundra.
So, no chef's hat for me.
I wonder what's in the kitchen to eat? - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, April 29, 2010
Joni & Bob(April 27, 2010)
Last week, seemingly out of the blue, folk/rock icon Joni Mitchell blasted the ultimate folk/rock icon Bob Dylan with criticisms that, when distilled down, indicate she thinks Dylan is a phony.
Phoniness or putting on a facade is not anything unusual in the music or entertainment business. Especially in rock music. Think of the rock circus acts like Kiss, Alice Cooper, and Marilyn Manson. Shoot, even that most earnest of bands U2 has a lead singer with a clown name, "Bono."
In the folk music world where the perception of sincerity and being real is paramount, to be labeled a phony is a major sin.
It's not the first time Dylan has faced barbs from the folk music world, the most famous of which was when he went electric at the Newport festival in 1965. This one just seems more personal.
I'm not sure what prompted Mitchell's displeasure. She and Dylan have toured together in the past so one would assume they had a measure of friendship and respect for one another.
Mitchell's criticisms of her fellow singer surprised me and, since I'm a big fan of both the artists, unsettled me a bit. Kind of like seeing one's parents fight or getting into a bit of bickering with a friend.
Maybe that's it though. Maybe it takes a friend to toughly point out when one goes astray. Maybe it's only when someone close to you, or that you respect, hammers you that you really listen and examine what you are doing. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, April 27, 2010
Comment from Mike: Your unsettling feeling is understood. Among the handful of CD's sitting upon my shelf in my office as I type this are Dylan's Blood on the Tracks and Time Out of Mind along with Mitchell's Blue and Court and Spark. I recall quite a few years ago a friend, that also was a Bob Dylan fan, related a book he read that seemed to insinuate that much of Dylan's character was manufactored during his development in the 1960's. I remember finding that hard to accept or believe. Perhaps he was correct...
Regardless, seeing him at Polaris sometime in the late 90's or early 2000's, holding court on stage dressed in an all white 3 peice suite (white cowboy hat included) standing behind an organ at the front of the stage is one of my best live music memories. Some things you just can't fake.
Emma rules the diamond (April 22, 2010)
Batters just don't stand a chance when Emma Johnson takes the mound.
If you are a fan of high school athletics, particularly of softball, I recommend you go to a Groveport Madison Cruiser varsity softball game this spring and watch hard throwing pitcher Emma Johnson mow down opposing batters.
Johnson, a junior, already has pitched 8 wins this season. She is among the leaders in the county with a 0.38 earned run average. More impressively, she leads the county in pitching strikeouts with 167, which is 47 more than her closest competitor.
A right hander, Johnson has a large arsenal of pitches including a screaming fast ball, change up, curve, rise ball, drop curve, and a rise curve. Last spring she told me her favorite is the rise ball, which looks like it will come in over the plate but then rises causing the batter to swing under the ball.
So head on out to the softball field at the high school, 4475 S. Hamilton Road and watch this talented pitching phenom in action. For the game schedule, visit www.gocruisers.org or call the athletic department at 836-4968. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, April 22, 2010
The meaning of Oz (April 20, 2010)
The old stories and fairy tales of our youth, such as those of the Brothers Grimm and others, often are filled with symbolism and meanings that were vivid when the stories first arose in Europe in those long ago days, but are now lost to us.
But what of our own classic American fairy tale, Frank Baum's book, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz"? Most of us know the story from the famed 1939 movie starring Judy Garland as Dorothy, but the movie took liberties with the story, most notably giving Dorothy ruby red slippers instead of the silver slippers in the book.
Why silver? Because the story Baum wrote in 1900 is an allegory about the hard economic times of the late 1880s and early 1890s and the battle over whether the United States' monetary system should be on the gold or silver standard.
In those days, rural and small town America backed the "free coinage of silver," which meant a more free flowing of money resulting in better prices for crops. The gold standard, a more controlled money supply, was supported by wealthy industrialists.
Baum's story is filled with symbolism and characters in this political battle of silver vs. gold. In their book, "America: Past and Present," historians Robert Divine, T.H. Breen, George Frederickson, and R. Hal Williams, outline some of these symbols as:
•Dorothy: represents every person.
•The tornado: a potential victory of pro-silver voters at the polls delivering one from the drought stricken Midwest to a beautiful land.
•Wicked Witch of the East: eastern money powers.
•Munchkins: the common people.
•Emerald City: the greenback colored national capital.
•Silver slippers and the yellow brick road: silver and gold monetary systems.
•Good Witch of the North: northern voters.
•Scarecrow: the farmer.
•Tin Woodsman: the industrial worker.
•Cowardly Lion: reformers who appear weak at first but in reality are courageous.
•Wicked Witch of the West: mortgage companies.
•Good Witch of the South: the South supported silver.
•Oz: abbreviation for ounces, the measurement of silver and gold.
In the end of Baum's story, all ends well for the silver forces as the Wicked Witch of the West is vanquished.
However, political reality in 1896 went the other way as the pro-gold standard William McKinley of Ohio won the presidency over William Jennings Bryan and the pro-silver faction.
McKinley campaigned from his front porch on a wide political platform that appealed to many facets of the electorate - labor, immigrants, wealthy farmers, business, and the middle class; while Bryan, a noted orator who campaigned exhaustively, criss crossing the country by train, was viewed as possibly taking too narrow of an approach by depending heavily on the silver issue for support.
So, the next time you settle back to view the 1939 film and you hear the refrain, "Follow the yellow brick road," think back more than 100 years to a time when that road lead one down a path away from a cloud with a silver lining. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, April 20, 2010
One April (April 13, 2010)
When I was a kid my brother, sister, and I walked or rode our bikes unerringly straight down the Main Street sidewalks to Groveport Elementary School during our school days.
But, when I was 10, with my brother in junior high and my sister in high school, I became the lone sojourner each morning to school. All through that school year I followed the same familiar route to school alone without thinking about it. Then, one April morning I changed the route.
It was one of those April mornings that hints of summer. The air was warm and dewey. The tree blossoms were turning from pink and white to green. As I started to pedal my bike, metal lunchbox rattling in the handlebar basket as I went, I thought, "No." Instead of proceeding straight down Main Street I whipped left at West Street. I decided to prolong my trip to school and soak in this one April morning.
I wheeled down West Street to Elm and cut right. Adults walking to their cars to go to work and other kids heading to school paid no notice as I went by. Couldn't they see I've changed? Couldn't they see I'm somewhere different on this April morning?
I began to weave in and out of the alleys in a slow progression to the school. I wanted to make as many turns as possible before I reached the schoolyard.
Would I be late for school? That had never happened before. It was exciting to think this could be the day.
I cut across Main Street down Walnut Street to the cemetery. Right or left? Right, away from the school.
Now up College Street back across Main Street to Church Street to Blacklick Street. The sun warmed my skin at the same time the wind generated by biking cooled me. I whirred along the brick street and looped back to the grain elevator at the railroad tracks. Men milled about the elevator but paid me no mind. Bike tires crunched in the cinder gravel.
Front Street. End of the road.
I turned the bike up the Front Street sidewalk to the Main Street traffic light. The big brick school rose in my view. Lots of straggling kids scurrying to the building. Yellow buses pulling away. I was in no hurry.
I coasted into the schoolyard and circled around back to the bike racks. With a bump and a "thunk" the bike plopped into the rack. No one else around, all the kids were already inside.
I walked up the steps to my classroom and ambled into the room. I eased into my seat a minute before the bell rang.
I felt new. I felt free. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, April 13, 2010
Comment from Jo:I could see every house, tree, garden, sidewalk and alley on your route. Know them well!
The ocean (April 8, 2010)
I can't remember the first time I saw the ocean. I'm not sure what it says about me that my first sighting of such an awesome and beautiful thing just didn't register.
I've been to the Atlantic Ocean a few times over the years at beaches in South Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, and Cape Cod in Massachusetts.
I remember my feet sinking into the soft, rolling sand dunes at Cape Cod that lead down to the cold, foamy, gray sea in early fall.
My memories of Virginia and New Jersey are that the beaches seemed like ash trays and made me think of the ocean as nature's massive toilet.
In South Carolina the beach seemed as clean as a freshly vacuumed carpet and was hard as concrete. The view of the sea there was breathtaking. It's on the South Carolina beach where I remember walking in the night below a velvet, starry sky with the Dylan lyric, "To dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free..." tripping through my head.
I'm not a swimmer so my connection with the ocean is not one of immersion but of observation. I'd sit and watch the waves roll in, salty water either caressing a sandy beach or smacking the rocks. If one sits on the beach long enough, it feels as though your heartbeat and the waves become in sync and one gains a sensation of floating when not even in the water.
I may not remember my first view of the ocean, but, through the sum of my time at its edge, the waters of the sea remain with me. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, April 8, 2010
Random flowers (April 5, 2010)
The neighborhood squirrels have taken up gardening.
The bushy tailed little mammals transplanted a couple of tulips to the wide open spaces of the middle of my backyard. Why the squirrels decided to delve into the the green arts I don't know, but I like the randomness of their choice of location for the tulips and have decided to follow their lead.
My favorite flower in the yard are black-eyed susans. (By the way, listen to Cheri Knight's rocker "Black-eyed Susie" if you want to hear a great, menacing sounding song about planting flowers.)
Last year's black-eyed susans in my yard have re-seeded themselves where they saw fit and I have decided to let them grow where they may. Most of them are haphazardly pushing through the dirt in their original flower bed, but others have taken root in more hostile spots in my half gravel/half grassy driveway, aside fence post gates, in sidewalk cracks, and among some bricks. I admire their leafy fortitude and ambition.
I'm going to let the scattered black-eyed susans and the squirrel planted tulips grow where they may and see what happens.
Flower power! - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, April 5, 2010
The flatness (March 30, 2010)
I've stepped in the rolling Atlantic Ocean. I've rolled through the round shouldered Appalachian Mountains. I've wandered towering forests. I've watched mighty rivers - the beautiful Ohio and the broad Mississippi - relentlessly roll on.
I've not seen the vast flatness.
I know that's an odd thing for an Ohioan to say, considering much of the land here is like a table top. I've travelled through Indiana and Illinois, too, and saw the level ground there. The land is indeed flat in these three states, but there is a sense in each of them that there is an end to the flatness - a hill there, a valley round the bend, a nearby town.
The furthest west I've been is St. Louis, which is at the edge of the vast flatness I have yet to enter - The Great Plains - a land, in my mind's eye, where the flatness has an endless quality.
I once saw a film of a freight train clickety-clacking through the Great Plains. The train was so long one could not see the beginning or end of it in either direction, its tail and head disappearing into the flatness. Another time I saw a photo of a lone tree rising from the Great Plains flatness. It seemed like a leafy skyscraper, the tallest thing around until one would come across a small town's water tower. A train and a tree - one an example of mankind's mechanical power, the other a symbol of nature's strength and beauty - both framed and embraced by the vast flatness of the ground and its sister, the big sky above, in a way that one observes every rivet of the train, every bend in the bark.
Like that sky above, the flatness is not the empty place it seems. Its prairie grasses, wheat fields, corn fields, and people fulfill it. No, it's not an empty place, it's more like the pages of a book, spread out for miles for the reading.
Will I ever go there? Will I stand in a forever field of prairie grass and look into the endless flatness in all directions and feel it swirl around me? Will I stand in such a field where I am the tallest thing for miles, where I am a giant? - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, March 30, 2010
Sara and the Shawnee (March 25, 2010) (A tale once told to me by my late grandmother Edna Palsgrove.)
In the early 19th century the small, young family of Charles and Sara and their infant daughter settled on a farm along Blacklick Creek in Madison Township (near what are now Shannon and Ebright roads today).
One autumn day, while her husband was off hunting, Sara was doing chores about the farm, carrying her daughter along with her, when she noticed, off in the distance along the wooded creek line, a Shawnee hunting party of three coming her way.
The Shawnee did not have a village nearby, but were known to sometimes hunt along the creeks in the newly formed township. Though things could be tense when settlers in the area came in contact with the Shawnee, there had not been any known violence locally.
Just the same, Sara did not like the prospect of she and her daughter being alone on the farm with a Shawnee hunting party within sight.
She hurried into the cabin and grabbed a black shawl, which she wrapped around herself and her daughter, and then quickly headed into the woods to hide. She found a damp hollow log and crawled inside with her baby. The log was mushy inside and smelled of rot. Once inside the log she kicked up some dead leaves to conceal the opening. Then they lay there, silent.
Soon she heard leaves crunching under footsteps. The sound got closer. She held her breath as the rustling came near her log hiding place. Then it stopped. She could hear birds and the creek flowing, but nothing else.
Then one slight tap on the log. She froze and her heart raced. Then came the crunching of leaves stepping off into the distance.
Had they left?
She wasn't sure, so she waited. Her daughter began to fuss in the tight quarters. Sara took a deep breath and inched out of the log. Peering out, she saw they were alone. Sara wriggled out of the log, carefully holding her daughter. She stood up and brushed the moldy, woody debris of her hiding place from her shawl.
As she did this, she saw a small pouch perched atop the log. She carefully opened it.
Inside were a handful of shelled walnuts.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, March 25, 2010
In the Pennsylvania night (March 23, 2010)
The red lights bobbed and weaved in the darkness ahead.
There were round ones, rectangular ones, oblong ones, square ones...They appeared, sped by us framed by the lines in the asphalt, and slowly disappeared into the murk only to be replaced by others.
I sat in the back seat of the small car that hurtled through the Pennsylvania night. My head hurt from hours of riding in the car from Ohio. The interstate piercing the Pennsylvania countryside seemed endless. I rested my throbbing skull against the window to absorb relief through the deep night air coolness of the plexiglass.
The car hummed the highway. My traveling companions were quiet. One sound asleep to my left. Two others in the front seat talking in the hushed tones of night in the personal code only a couple in love can speak.
The soft silence a departure from hours earlier when we all sang out one of our traveling songs in full throat at the eager start of the trip.
"There is a house in New Orleans they call the Rising Sun..."
We were heading east. East to the ocean. East to the sand dunes. Beyond that there was no reason, just the journey.
In my mouth was the soured taste of too many oatmeal creme pies. Traveling food. I rolled my head against the window searching for a new cool spot. I looked up. Stars awash in the sky. Light coming to us from long ago.
"and it's been the ruin of many a poor boy..."
Scenes of shadows rise and fall as I peer out the window, forehead resting against the cool. Houses with flecks of light in the distance...people already at home and me far from mine.
"and God, I know I'm one..." - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, March 23, 2010
Wheelin' (March 22, 2010)
It's good to be back out on my bicycle again.
Since March emerged from one of the grayest, snowiest, and downright frostiest winters of recent memory, I've been out on my trusty bicycle about three or four times a week.
I didn't ride at all in January and February and only a couple of times in December. It's amazing that, after cycling regularly from last spring till November, that in just three months of bleak winter it felt like I lost all the endurance and leg strength I had gained. Why can't we store up physical fitness?
My first couple of rides this spring out on the Three Creeks bike path were a little rough. My legs, used to a life of lazy leisure on the couch, protested with soreness. But then my leg muscles remembered what they were needed for and responded quickly. I'm nearly back in condition to where I was before winter pushed me indoors.
I love the Three Creeks bike path. It's a beautiful blend of meadows, creeks, and thick woods. Winter beat up the lands of the park just like it knocked us around. But the trees, grasses, flowers, and animals are resilient and are bouncing back.
Just like my legs. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, March 22, 2010
The shot (March 16, 2010)
Brown bottles containing various pills, liquids, and unknown solids burdened the shelves in the old doctor's office that once operated out of the block building at Brook Alley and Main Street in Groveport.
To this day when I think of medicine it is the image of these murky brown bottles that emerges.
I first saw them when I went for my childhood vaccinations, or as we kids called it, getting "the shot."
I had heard about the shot. Other kids who had already had their trial by needle spoke of it in hushed, dreaded tones.
"Did you get a shot?" a kid would ask.
"Ohhhhh," would be the response coupled with a grimace. "Did it hurt?"
"Yes," would be the truthful answer a few kids would give, but others, attempting to be tough, would say, "No, it didn't hurt," but you knew they were lying by the faraway look in their eyes.
There were kids who would inflate the fear by telling others that doctors used a extra hurtful square needle instead of a pointed one. The mythical square needle was a monstrous phantom to consider.
Adults never really explained the shot to us. Just said we had to have it done. Being kids we were in no place to bargain.
One day I was taken to the doctor's office that was home to the brown bottles. They sat me on a vinyl covered exam table, the kind of vinyl that sticks to you. Sunlight filtered into the office from a streaked window. The light glanced off the brown bottles giving them an amber hue.
The old doctor was all business. Didn't say much. Rolled up my sleeve and swabbed my upper left arm with something from a brown bottle.
"Is that a square needle?" I asked.
"What? Square needle?" the doctor replied and he stuck my arm with the shot.
I wasn't ready for it and it surprised me so much that at first I didn't feel it. Then I did. A piercing feeling, sort of like a bee sting that kept going.
It was over quickly.
"You're done," the doctor said.
I climbed off the table.
"Don't rub it," the doctor said. "It'll scab up so don't pick the scab either."
I looked up at the brown bottles.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, March 16, 2010
The fence (March 11, 2010)
The fence went up encircling my backyard 13 years ago.
Erecting the fence was my ex-wife’s idea because we had just gotten a dog and she wanted it to be free to roam the yard. Less than a year later both dog and wife left and moved on to other lives...and I had a fence.
I was never much for fences in yards. Growing up, our neighborhood yards were nearly fenceless so the properties just blended together in a mesh of grass, bushes, and tree lines. We kids freely bounded from one yard to the other.
Now I have a fence. A wooden picket fence. Kind of makes the backyard look like fort.
As fences go though, it doesn’t really keep anything or anyone in or out so it doesn’t really have a purpose. Rabbits, squirrels, feral cats, raccoons, possums, and birds maneuver through its slats and gaps or over it with ease. Two gates allow humans to come and go.
For its first few years, the fence was just bare wood. I knew I would have to stain or paint it, but it would be a large, time consuming task and the one household chore I despise the most is painting. I can always find other things to do.
All the while the fence patiently stood there bare. It knew it could outlast me and that I would eventually have to take up the brush. Some things just have to be done.
So one spring about 10 years ago I bought some redwood stain and began the task of coating the fence in deep red. My heart wasn’t in the task and I worked on it sporadically completing small sections at a time. I sat in a lawn chair, a chair that’s still specked and flecked with red stain, and inched my way around slathering the fence as the seasons turned.
When I began the task the lilacs burst forth and soon the dandelions were in full yellow face. Next came the boisterous peonies. Then the dainty white clover flowers appeared.
Summer wore on and the Rose of Sharon bloomed. The grass went from fresh to dull green in the heat.
The fence transformed from weathered wood to hearty red, the unpainted sections looking stark in comparison to the red warmth.
My neighbor to the west would jokingly comment from time to time about my slow progress with the fence staining.
“By winter I think the fence will be still be ahead,” he laughed.
I nodded knowing he may be right.
September came and the energy its clear air and high blue skies bring propelled me into a frenzy of staining and I completed big chunks of slats.
The days were getting shorter and the fading daylight and chillier air of October slowed the pace.
One day I looked up and realized I was nearly finished. Only a few sections to go. I worked for a little while on the fence each night after work.
On a late October evening when jack o’ lanterns glowed and goblins scampered on the streets, I dabbed the last bit of stain on the last slat just as the sun disappeared below the horizon. By Halloween the fence no longer haunted me. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, March 11, 2010
The movies (March 8, 2010)
The past few years I've been losing interest in movies, blaming my waning film viewing on Hollywood's reliance on computer special effects rather than developing interesting and well presented story lines.
The idea of special effects is not new. Hollywood movie makers have used special effects of different sorts ever since the movie industry began.
Early efforts at special effects - like sped up motion, quick cuts, animations, explosions, models of monsters, etc. - may seem crude compared to the cold computer calculated effects that seem ever present in today's films, but they were there.
Movies are meant to transport the viewer and special effects are one way to provide an alternate universe. Done well and they can enhance a story. Done clumsily, overbearingly, or simply inserted because they physically can be, and the splashy special effects will make a story line and human actors disappear under a gauntlet of glitz.
It's not the ever advancing innovations in special effects that are the problem, it's how they are used.
I still think the movies that linger in our hearts and minds are the ones where the humanity portrayed and the story being told are at the forefront. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, March 8, 2010
The coffee grinder (March 3, 2010)
Back in the early to mid 1960s, the massive grocery chain stores that seem to be everywhere these days were few and far between.
Often my family made small grocery purchases at the old Norm's Market in Groveport, but for the big weekly grocery shopping trip we headed to the nearest Albers grocery store at either Great Eastern Shopping Center in Whitehall or Great Southern Shopping Center on the south side of Columbus.
The Friday night trip to the grocery store was kind of an event. All five of us, my parents, brother and sister, and myself went. I can never remember having a baby sitter as a small kid, my parents just generally took us kids wherever they went.
The Albers store offered a lot of sensory delights to a kid - all the food, the bright lighting, and the toy aisle among them.
My brother and I often would stand on the runners on either side of the metal grocery cart and hitch a ride through the store as my parents pushed us along. Not exactly a thrill ride, but it beat walking.
If my parents had a little money to spare they would buy us "Jack and Jill," a monthly magazine for kids that I mostly remember for the illustrated calendar it featured spotlighting the current month with bits of information about the month, moon cycles, and pictures depicting the important days.
A personal fascination for me when I was quite young was the electric coffee grinder machine in the coffee aisle at Albers where people could grind beans for their own coffee blend. The big, boxy machine was a deep, rich brown color, and made a roaring, rumbling sound as it ground the coffee beans. Every time we rolled past it I wanted to flip the switch on the machine to make it bellow its wonderfully loud, raucous noise. I vowed one day to do it.
So, one week I slipped off the runner on the grocery cart and lagged back a bit from the family as we entered the coffee aisle. I pretended to look around as my parents were occupied with putting things in the cart.
I slowly approached the coffee grinder machine and looked up at the magical black switch. There it was. I savored the moment. Now or never! I quickly reached up and flicked the switch...ROAR NEERUM NEERUM NEERUM went the machine! I was overjoyed.
Hearing the sound, my mother turned around and, in true time honored tired mom fashion, calmy switched off the machine and said to me, "What's wrong with you?" - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, March 3, 2010
Under the snow(March 1, 2010)
Now that some of our month's worth of high piled snow is starting to melt, I took a look around to see what it had wrought.
Grass that has been entombed in snow for weeks is brown and flattened with its blades twisted and mashed together. A little warmth will make the grass spring back, but right now it looks like Jack Frost, the original "Nature Boy," just beat it up in a Texas cage wrestling death match.
Litter of all sorts has reappeared from beneath the white cloak. It, too, is browned and twisted.
Broken twigs, gravel, and half frozen black muck are emerging from the now graying piles where they ended up after they were caught up in the tumult when snow plows pushed and shoved the white stuff out of the way.
Potholes, cracks, and canyons have appeared in some crumbling streets.
Streets are stained and streaked grayish/white from the remnants of road salt making the roadways look old before their time.
Flower beds have mud that looks like dark chocolate fudge.
Wet gloves, hats, and branches litter the ground around lumpy piles of snow that were once snowmen. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, March 1, 2010
Awakening (Feb. 25, 2010)
Another gray, cold February morning. The furnace pops on and begins to warm the creaky bones of the old wooden house.
Though frost still clings to the windows, there's a clear spot on the glass and I look outside and see a thin, fluffy layer of new fallen snow coating the remains of the partially melted, crusty old snow that's been on the ground the whole month.
Winter has seemed longer than usual this year; no doubt brought on by the nearly four feet of snow that has fallen since November and cold temperatures that have rarely reached the upper 30's. Adding to the perception of unending winter are the dominating gray skies which have allowed only occasional views of the winter's sun. The first day of spring is still more than three weeks away and, even with its arrival, warm weather in Ohio isn't really here to stay until May.
I eat a simple breakfast, gather myself up and head for work. As I walk to my car something colorful on the ground amidst the white and gray catches my eye. What I see is a proclamation that winter's time is waning no matter how hard it tries to hold on. Because, there, defiantly poking up through the cold, hard mud and the persistent snow cover, are several fresh green shoots of daffodils. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Feb. 25, 2010
The paths (Feb. 24, 2010)
Years ago, before the village of Groveport began its long process of reconstructing streets and putting in new sidewalks with handicap ramps, there used to be dirt paths that were created over the years by kids on their bicycles, worn into the earth as they maneuvered around to avoid the bump of the curb where the sidewalk met the street.
Most of these bypass dirt paths were connected to Main Street sidewalks and some were elaborate. A long one at Center and Main streets on the north sidewalk sliced around a massive tree and jogged around the tree's above ground roots.
Another one at Raver Alley and Main Street on the north sidewalk passed through a narrow opening in a wrought iron fence and a concrete post. There was just enough room for a bicycle's handlebars to fit through without scraping your hand on the wrought iron or pinching it against the concrete post. But you had to hold the handlebars steady so you wouldn't crash. To pedal through this opening fast was an act of childhood bravery.
Other paths were short and direct. Some were wide, some were narrow, but they all fit the space as needed.
One long skinny path, now long gone, extended from the end of a dead end sidewalk southeast of Clark Court. The path was about a bicycle tire wide and cut straight through a once vacant lot as it linked to the Main Street sidewalks.
Besides these sidewalk paths there were also little paths that were cut throughs between yards created by kids as short cuts to their friends' houses.
The interesting thing about all these paths is that the property owners of decades ago didn't seem to mind them being there. No one blocked the paths or tried to seed them with grass. No one came out and yelled at the kids to stop using them. The kids used the paths, but didn't stray from them into private yards. The existence and use of the paths was understood in an unspoken way. The paths were just accepted as part of small town life.
The paths are gone now, replaced by structural improvements and a culture that no longer needs or wants them. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Feb. 24, 2010
Comment from Jo: When I am in need of a quiet moment, I read the Blogs by Rick Palsgrove. We share the
same yen for simple and uncomplicated moments, memories and nostalgia.
Signs of the times (Feb. 22, 2010)
It's a sure sign of getting older when one starts to notice things that are no longer around or have changed dramatically over time. Here's a few things I thought of from my own lifetime that were once here and are now gone or have changed:
•The massive steel/iron girder bridges that once spanned Blacklick, Little Walnut, and Big Walnut creeks in the area are long gone. These were formidable, artistic looking structures whose brawny bulk proudly announced, "You're crossing the creek!" Their replacements, though more efficient, are far more subdued.
•The old high school football fields behind the former Canal Winchester High School and Groveport Madison High School. The fields are still there and the Groveport one is used for the junior high team, but it looks different - there's a new scoreboard (the old scoreboard was blown down by a storm years ago) and the towering lights are gone. The CW field still had its bleachers last time I looked, but it looks ghostly. Fans were close to the field at both places giving the stadiums an energetic feel.
•The old gym on the auditorium stage in the former Canal Winchester High School. It was such a bandbox of a gym floor, but I loved its quirkiness. The room is now the elegant Oley Speaks Auditorium.
•I can remember when the only schools in the Groveport Madison School District were the high school/junior high on Main Street, Groveport Elementary, Brice Elementary and Edwards Elementary. Now the district has 10 school buildings.
•I miss being able to drive over the covered bridge in Canal Winchester. I always felt like a time traveler when I did.
•The big trees on Groveport's Main Street that once formed a shady canopy over the street and sidewalks. I miss them.
•The Super Duper in Canal Winchester on West Waterloo Street. Both its name and design were so 1960s.
•There used to be a lot more gas stations around. Groveport once had a Sunoco, Sohio, Shell, and Texaco along its Main Street. Canal Winchester used to have one right downtown on Waterloo Street.
•I can remember Groveport once having a lot of sit down restaurants - the Cruiser Inn, Miller's, Taylor's, the Lunch Box...
•The old swimming pools in Groveport and Canal Winchester. Both have been replaced by new, modern style facilities, but there was something charming about the concrete simplicity of the old pools.
•Does anyone else remember the old fellow who in the early to mid 1960s still used a wagon and a team of horses to take his grain to the grain elevator in Groveport? As I recall, we kids used to always run to Main Street to watch him go by. I can still hear the horses' hooves clopping on the street and their harnesses straining as they pulled the heavy wagon with its load. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Feb. 22, 2010
Icicles (Feb. 18, 2010)
My house has grown icy teeth.
Long, spiked, silvery, frozen teeth that hang from the roof's edge.
From a distance it looks like my house is getting ready to chomp on the nearby trees.
Both fragile and solid, the frozen incisors could inflict real pain if they were to fall from their dangling perch and hit you in the head, yet you could easily snap some of them between two fingers.
I've never seen icicles this big on my house. They resemble massive stalactities. There's a couple that are as tall as I am. I'm hoping my roof and gutters are sturdy enough to handle the weight of all this ice.
When the little bit of winter sun flickers through the gray February sky of Ohio, the icicles sparkle. On a humid, breezeless 90 degree day this coming July, I'll think back on this sight for a bit of cool mental relief from the heat. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Feb. 18, 2010
News reporting 1890s style (Feb. 15, 2010)
News reporting sure has changed since 1890.
In the 19th century Groveport had two newspapers - "The Rose Bud" in the 1850s and "The Groveport Observer" in the 1890s. This weekend I took a look at "The Groveport Observer" from July 5, 1890 and came across this news item written in the colorful manner of the time by Charles Rarey that described a drinking spree by a couple of men in Groveport and their ensuing arrest:
"A couple of fellows came with the vowed intention of doing the burg and painting the town red. After getting pretty well lubricated they proceeded on their mission and had the first coat partly on when they were called to a halt by Marshal Kile. They immediately took leg bail and an exciting race was the result. The marshal was joined by Constable Conklin and others and the race became general. They were finally captured near the train depot and locked up until evening when they were brought before Mayor Shaw and salted to the tune of $4.65, each which they paid and, smilingly, left."
I particularly like how Rarey referred to the men running away as taking "leg bail." I bet the chase was a sight to see. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Feb. 15, 2010
The Banana Man (Feb. 11, 2010)
When I was a little kid in the late 1950s and early 1960s the powers that be were still trying to figure out what to put on television as children's programming.
They usually opted for puppets and cartoons mixed in with some humans to interact with them. Content wise, it was all a mystery to everyone.
In the mornings back then I'd sit in front of the television with my burr haircut (is it any wonder so many of us grew our hair long later) and a bowl of cereal and watch "Captain Kangaroo."
The show was entertaining with a little bit of educational quality (I learned how to spell "Massachusetts" because of a song they played on the show), but mostly it bordered on the bizarre. I loved it.
First off, there were two ratty looking psychopathic puppets - Mr. Moose and Bunny Rabbit - who delighted in tormenting Captain Kangaroo by dropping ping pong balls on him and stealing his carrots. They were great.
There was a talking grandfather clock, odd cartoons like "Tom Terrific" where the drawings consisted of squiggly lines vaguely shaped like characters, and other assorted madness. Superbly odd stuff.
But all of it paled in comparison to the "Banana Man." Even as a kid I knew the Banana Man was weird and incomprehensible. The Captain would announce the Banana Man's arrival with great anticipation and then there he would be.
The Banana Man's entire act consisted of pulling odds and ends out of the pockets of his big, baggy coat. Mostly bananas. Lots of bananas, but also watermelons, ties, a violin, and on and on. He then placed these things in boxes that later turned into a train that he rolled away. All the while he did this he would sing a non-sensical, high pitched song.
This was his act.
But I, and millions of other little kids were mezmerized by it.
To this day I can't figure out what the Banana Man was all about.
Shadow of The Who (Feb. 8, 2010)
First, let me say that I am a huge fan of The Who.
The Who were always "my band" dating back to when my youthful American ears first heard their musical mayhem back in the 1960s. They were loud, caustic, angry, and cynical - which I loved. I was ecstatic back in 1967 (or was it 1968?) when I saw them perform on the Smother Brothers television show.
"Who's Next" remains my favorite record album and I'm such a fan that I even like their "Who By Numbers" album, which critics once termed the band's songwriter Pete Townshend's "suicide note." I still listen to all my Who records frequently.
That being said, what I saw on television Sunday night at the halftime of the Super Bowl was not The Who. It was the Shadow of The Who. Only Townshend and singer Roger Daltrey remain out of the original quartet as manic, magnificent drummer Keith Moon and skilled bassist John Entwistle passed away a while ago. The four of them together made up The Who's formidable sound. Without Moon and Entwistle much of the spark is gone. While Townshend can still hold his own on guitar, Daltrey's once powerful voice is fading.
The Super Bowl halftime show was painful to watch and hear. All the pyrotechnics and overly done light show just dwarfed the band. The sound also seemed muffled. It was all hyperbole, but I guess that's what the Super Bowl is - too much of anything.
I cringed as Townshend, Daltrey and their new band members played short, choppy versions of great Who songs, cheapening the original artistry of the music.
We all get old and I can't blame Townshend and Daltrey for wanting to keep on performing. It's what they do.
But I'll stick with my old Who records. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Feb. 8, 2010
States' shapes(Feb. 4, 2010) Those who know me know I like maps. All kinds of maps - road maps, historic maps, political maps, graphic relief maps, globes, and so on. A former girlfriend many years ago joked that I suffered from a form of "mapness."
So, imagine my happiness in finding the recently published book, "How the States Got Their Shapes," by Mark Stein. The book - which is part geography, part history, part humor - endeavors to explain how America's 50 states obtained their sometimes quirky, sometimes orderly shapes.
Stein delves into how Ohio and Michigan almost got into an actual shooting war over Toledo and whether its valuable port on Lake Erie would be on Buckeye turf or Wolverine. The book also talks about how, though Kansas' boundaries look dull and rectangular, they were formed from the fire of the days of conflict known as "Bleeding Kansas" prior to the Civil War. It digs into why we have a mixture of huge states, medium sized states, and tiny states. It's all detailed in 50 separate chapters, one for each state.
The tales of how each state it got its shape are a blend of politics, natural topography, human nature, and rivalry.
Plus, did I tell you it's loaded with maps! Tailor made for anyone who is also inclined to "mapness."
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Feb. 4, 2010
Moondance (Feb. 2, 2010)
On a recent night I looked up to see the full moon shining brightly through the bony bare branches of my tall locust tree.
I thought, "What a cold looking moon!"
But then, I realized that, if I were to see the same sight in late October just after the leaves had fallen, I would've thought, "What a spooky looking moon!" If I were to have seen the same scene in December I would've imagined a silhouette of Santa's sleigh passing through the moonlight or thought of it as a moon of seasonal good tidings.
But it is merely the moon and nothing more. It is always the moon. It is us who give the moon its personality.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Feb. 2, 2010
Salinger and Zinn (Feb. 1, 2010)
Last week two writers of note passed away - the novelist J.D. Salinger, 91, and the historian Howard Zinn, 87.
Salinger's reclusive ways are now legendary, but we shouldn't let that aspect of his life overshadow the fine work he produced while he still chose to publish when he was a younger man.
Most have heard of, and maybe read, his classic, "Catcher in the Rye," but his other works are worth a read, too. They are a collection of short stories entitled "Nine Stories," and three shorter novels: "Franny and Zooey," Raise High the Roofbeams," and "Seymour: An Introduction." I read them all when I was in my late teens and early twenties and each work resonated with me. I recommend them all.
But it was the passing of Zinn that struck me deeper. Zinn was my favorite historian and I gobbled up as many of his books as I could find. His most well known and notable book is his "A People's History of the United States," a fearless and in depth view of history from the viewpoint of the downtrodden rather than from the perspective of those in power.
Years ago I was happy to be in attendance when Zinn gave a talk at The Ohio State University in some dark meeting hall on campus. He mixed intellect, passion, and humanity into his speech reflecting on the themes he wrote about in a "A People's History of the United States." After his lecture, he lingered and patiently and earnestly talked individually with each of the many of us from the audience, including myself, who wanted to meet him and ask questions. He was a true teacher.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Feb. 1, 2010
Bare spots (Jan. 27, 2010)
The backyard was a combination of clover, grass, and, most noticeably, big bare spots of dirt.
The well worn, dusty patches were the result of countless games of football, baseball, and basketball (and some spirited badminton, too) that we neighborhood kids played in our backyard when I was growing up.
This was an all purpose, rectangular backyard that easily accommodated our games. The bare spots of dirt outlined the baseball field where the bases, home plate, and pitcher's mound were (even though there was no actual "mound"). Down the middle of the yard was a long, narrow dirt patch worn down from our football games. In the far corner of the yard was a grassless area underneath the basketball backboard and pole.
While playing the games, the players had to be aware of the many obstacles in the field of play. Obstructions that made the yard quirkier than any of the famous old time or fancy retro stadiums. Obstacles such as: the World War I wagon tonques that supported a clothesline that ran the length of the yard off to one side; the barrel for burning trash in left field; various looming bushes and trees that leaned out into the yard; and the biggest obstacle of all - our house. The house sat at the end of the yard and the football end zone at that end actually had to wrap around the side of the house.
My brother had a great knack for enhancing our ballfield yard. He made wooden bases for baseball as well as a temporary "home run" fence, which was a string strung around the outfield. He also put together a scoreboard for us to use.
My father made the basketball backboard and mounted it on a pole he got from my uncle's farm. That old backboard lasted a good while before it finally wore out and was replaced by a manufactured one.
The games on those dirt bare spots served many purposes for us. First off, they were fun. But the games also taught us how to resolve conflicts and work as a team without adult supervision. We settled everything amongst ourselves. Sure, we'd get mad at times, but the fun was more important and any anger was short lived.
When I think back it seems like we played those ball games forever in that yard. But in reality it was only a very short period of time. A span of just a few childhood years before we all grew too big for the backyard.
I asked my Dad in later years about what he thought about those big bare spots in his backyard back then. He said it never bothered him that he didn't have a lush, green lawn in those days, that it was better that we kids were able to play ball. "Besides," Dad said, "kids grow up and grass grows back." He had that rich perspective of time that being an adult gives you. The knowledge that childhood is fleeting and once it is gone it is gone forever and should be enjoyed while it lasts.
One doesn't see bare patches in backyards like that much any more. I suppose kids are engaged elsewhere with other interests these days.
It seems a shame. They should remember the grass will always grow back.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Jan. 27, 2010
The public, the private, & the personal (Jan. 25, 2010)
This past weekend I was talking with an old friend about a theory of the self that categorizes our individual human being as divided into three parts:
•the public, which is how a person presents oneself to the world;
•the private, which are the aspects of a person that only one's closest family members and friends know; and
•the personal (or the secret), which are the mysterious inner elements of oneself that only an individual alone knows and no one else.
I don't know the originator of the theory, but it really resonates with me. Somehow all three of these personas make up an individual and allow a person to function in society, relate to one's loved ones, and to understand, (or try to understand) one's own inner workings.
Which of these three personas is the true self? Probably none of them alone as they are only parts. I think it takes all three to be a fully realized person.
But it raises questions:
•Does a breakdown in any of three personas weaken the other two?
•If one of the three elements is much stronger, does it overshadow the other two?
•Is our "secret" self the originator of our inner strength because, in spite of any support we receive, we are essentially alone in the world even when we are surrounded by throngs of other people and must summon our own internal willpower when needed?
•Because of these three personas, do we ever truly "know" another person and can they ever really "know" us?
It's a lot to think about.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Jan. 25, 2010
Finding Wert (Jan. 19, 2010)
I spent a lot of time over the years in the massive Obetz Cemetery looking for Jacob Wert's grave.
As the volunteer director of the Groveport Heritage Museum, I knew Wert was a pivotal figure - along with his rival William Rarey - in founding and establishing the town of Groveport in the 19th century. Rarey's gravesite is well known in the Groveport Cemetery and Wert was buried in the Obetz Cemetery, but where?
Many times I walked the rows of weathered tombstones in the old parts of the Obetz Cemetery looking for Wert's final resting place. I'd read the faded names carved in the stones, but none were his. He seemed lost in the field of tombstones.
One cold December day in 2008 I was walking around there and once again could not find Wert. After a long while I took a deep breath and stood staring out over the vast cemetery ready to give up. Just then I felt an urge to turn around and look...and right there directly behind me was Jacob Wert's grave! It's like Jacob tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Here I am!"
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Jan. 19, 2010
The howl (Jan. 18, 2010)
On recent early January morning (really early as I was battling insomnia again) I stepped out on my front porch to get some air.
It was still and silent. No breeze. No cars. No people around. Not even a feral cat stirring about. Then I distinctly heard it way off in the distance in the direction of Little Walnut Creek - howling.
It did not sound like someone's dog serenading the neighborhood. No, these howls sounded wild, forlorn, and musical whirling in the cold darkness. I can't be sure, but I think it was the howls of coyotes.
Though coyotes have returned to Ohio, they are furtive creatures that are seldom seen. But one can hear them when they sing.
According to wildlife experts, coyotes have two "howling seasons" - one is in January and February when they are seeking a mate; the other is in September and October when the mother coyote calls to her offspring. These experts also note a coyote's howl can be deceptive in that it may sound like it is coming from one place, but may really be somewhere else because of the way the sound of the howl carries.
I stood on the porch and listened to the howls in the distance. The long notes of the coyotes' song seemed timeless and I felt fortunate to be able to hear this concert of the wild on that frosty morning.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Jan. 18, 2010
On 54 (Jan. 15, 2010)
Last month I turned 54. I know that's not what's thought of as a traditionally milestone year like turning 18, 21, 30, 40, 50, 65 etc., but it did prompt me to weigh some things like:
•The older I get the dumber football seems. People complain about all the standing around players do at baseball games, but there seems to be just as much idle time on the gridiron what with huddles, time outs, walking around after plays, as well as time dancing and showing off. Plus, football, along with boxing and other such fighting sports, are the only ones that seem to be specifically designed to injure your opponent. How sporting is that?
•Political parties and the hot shot politicians and handlers who run them don't really care about the rest of us except at election time, and even then they just tolerate us. My dad long ago told me something very true about politicians of all political stripe - "They all belong to the same country club."
•So many mainstream movies these days are so crammed full of computer enhancements and effects that they are just flash, crash, and dash that total up to trash. Where's the human element? Where's the story?
•All of our new fangled technological gadgetry is useful, but at the same time irritating.
•The comic strip "Prince Valiant" is bizarre in its story lines and has quite possibly the slowest moving narrative of any comic strip ever. The strip can take months to advance its story just a few steps.
•I still like LP records better than CDs, but I like CDs better than all this other download mayhem.
•Even though it's 2010, saying the years in the 21st century still seems unnatural when one is used to calling the years "Nineteen sixty-four" and the like. I wonder if people who lived much of their life in the 1800s felt weird saying the years in the 1900s when the century turned?
•Being 54 feels like being in a time limbo. One is definitely not young, but not yet elderly. It feels more than "middle age." It's a transitional cusp where one can see the waning years coming, yet still feel the vitality of the younger years coursing through the mind, body, and spirit.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Jan. 15, 2010
Depot, 1910 - a story (Jan. 13, 2010)
It was cold inside the Scioto Valley Traction Line depot in Groveport. The small coal stove struggled to warm the little brick depot, but it couldn't even melt the morning January frost that painted the windows.
She stood near the stove seeking its feeble warmth, along with a couple of other waiting passengers, and watched out the window for the electric interurban train to ease down Blacklick Street.
She was 19 and heading off to work at her first paying job in Columbus. In reality, she had worked all her life helping her mother and family tend to their small Groveport home and yard. Since she was a little girl she had worked the family vegetable garden, helped clean house, baby sat her younger siblings, and fed the chickens. She also had to clean the chicken coop once in a while, a chore she hated because of the thick dust and floating feathers that choked the air.
But now she was heading for her first day of work in Columbus as a clerk in an insurance firm. She felt very modern having a job in downtown Columbus, 15 miles from home. To her mother's generation, that 15 miles was a long, timely trek by horse and buggy. The speedy interurban had changed that as she could now hop aboard and be in Columbus, including stops, in about 45 minutes.
She was excited, and a little scared, to be going to the city to work, to make her own money, to help her family, to explore a world outside of her small town, and to discover more about herself.
The stirring of the other waiting passengers let her know the interurban was coasting to the depot. She stepped outside and the chilling wind gave her a start and she pulled her wool coat tight. She crossed a wooden plank that was placed over the slushy, unpaved street and stepped up into the interurban.
She nestled down into a seat and wistfully smiled.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Jan. 13, 2010
The stoop (Jan. 11, 2010)
The narrow concrete stoop was once a spot where we kids gathered to eat chips, drink pop, and while away the time talking about things we once thought were vitally important, but are now lost to the haze of time.
It was a gathering place for me and the Wyatt boys in the mid 1960s. The concrete stoop runs along the length of the front of the former B&J Carryout on Main Street in Groveport (now a lawyer's office) where we would buy our junk food with money earned on paper routes and mowing grass. Once we made our salty and sweet purchases we'd settle in like old men on the stoop that was just the right size for us kids.
I recently reminisced about the stoop with Matt Wyatt, one of the stoop sitters, and he compared our stoop times to an innocent version of adulthood. He noted grown ups would go to dark bars to drink, talk, and idle away the hours while we kids would go to our sunny stoop to gulp down pop and greasy chips while laughing and nattering about all kinds of things. (Sometimes, if we were really flush with coins, we could spring for the 25 cents for a Hostess fruit pie.)
There we would sit on our stoop (it seemed like "our" stoop anyway), our bicycles haphazardly parked or piled up in front of us. We'd watch the cars go by, watch who would go in and out of the carryout, and watch who would stroll past.
We'd talk of the latest records, firecrackers, the Columbus Jets, the old canal, reptiles, Rocky Trails, our siblings, our schools, swimming, eating, television shows, other kids, and about adults - because we were always trying to figure them out.
I can't remember exactly when our stoop days ended. Maybe it was when we grew too big to comfortably sit on the narrow stoop. Most likely the stoop days passed when we became teenagers and we moved on to other places, people, and things.
But the stoop is still there, a reminder of those fine days of youth. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Jan. 11, 2010
Comment from Shawn: Wow! That brings back memories. I'll have you know that the stoop days at B&J's actually continued for me up until 1980. In 1980, I played freshman basketball (There were 2 Freshman teams at that time). Practice did not start until about 90 minutes after school got out because the coaches were Elementary school teachers and they got done later. All the players used to go to the carry-out and gorge ourselves on pop and junk food. Let me tell you - wind sprints did not mix well with a large bag of Doritos just eaten. In my earlier days I remember hanging on the stoop on a hot summer day after having just bought a pop from Mrs. Wyatt - I'm pretty sure she worked there.
Comment from Mark: Ah, the stoop. I remember favoring Faygo cream soda (can't remember if it was the yellow or blue kind, though). And I can't think of the carryout without thinking of Deacon, the nicest guy ever. Thanks for that blast from the past.
Comment from Whitney: I knew exactly what stoop you were talking about by the end of the first sentence!
The sled(Jan. 6, 2010)
Hanging on my living room wall is an ancient snow sled with rusted metal runners and nary a trace of paint left on its gray weathered wood.
The sled, though now retired as an art piece of sorts on my wall, was the sled my brother, sister, and I used as kids. I remember it was old and weathered when we got it over 40 years ago. No doubt it was passed down to us from some branch of the family. The thing could be more than 100 years old by now.
As kids we put that sled to good use on hills such as the one behind my Uncle Bob Palsgrove's farm house which once sat out on Williams Road, the hill at Groveport Elementary, and the little hill in front of our house on Main Street. The sled had a tattered rope we used to pull the sled along or to steer it as we hurtled downhill, but I never got the sense it ever responded to our attempts to guide it down the slope.
We also used to pull each other around in the snow taking turns riding on the sled.
The sled also did good work for us as, on more than one occasion, I can remember us getting our Christmas tree at the old Norm's Market, plopping it on the sled, and pulling it home. (Anyone else remember how Norm Zitske used to tie the biggest Christmas tree he had for sale out on the signpost in front of his market?)
I'm not sure how I gained possession of the sled in these later years. It probably has something to do with my nostalgic penchant historical type objects. Plus, that sturdy sled earned its right to rest in a warm place in its elder years and I'm glad to provide it.
I never want it to end up like "Rosebud."
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Jan. 6, 2010
On the run(Jan. 4, 2010) In my younger days I was a runner.
I picked it up naturally. My dad was a track man in high school and my older brother was a good long distance runner.
I ran the half mile in junior high and cross country one year in high school, but mostly I ran to get in shape for basketball season. But I even ran some 5K road races after high school. But creaky knees brought on by years of basketball playing convinced me to give up running for the bicycle.
Running (as well as its cousin, walking) is a pure, simple way to fitness. It's just you and the great outdoors. The human body craves exercise and running and walking are natural movements.
Being tired from exercising is a good kind of tired. You feel like the gunk of the world is flushed out of your system.
If you're thinking of getting yourself moving in 2010, consider signing up for the Groveport Recreation Center's annual, "Resolution Run," a 5K run on the paved trail in Groveport Park on Groveport Road. The run, for ages 12 and up, is Jan. 9 and starts at 9:15 a.m. Registration deadline is Jan. 8. Cost is $15 ($20 if you registration the day of the run).
I've covered the run in past years for the Southeast Messenger and can tell you it is quite a community experience as the runners encourage each other to battle the winter cold and let the human body triumph.
Think it over. Running or walking, like everything else, begins with that first step. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Jan. 4, 2010
Doldrums (Dec. 31, 2009)
It's the week between Christmas and New Year's Day. It's a listless time for many people as schools are closed, lots of people use up what's left of their vacation time for the year, and businesses often go on auto pilot. Television is mostly reruns and oddly named football bowl games.
It's also when the month long Christmas festivity frenzy fizzles out, capped by the punctuation mark that is New Year's Eve, one more celebration of sorts where folks pat their bellies in recognition of the five pounds of Christmas cookies that have taken up residence there.
When 2010 dawns we look about and see the Christmas trees, even the artificial ones, look tired - their trimmings, once seemingly bright, dulled by the gray light of New Year's Day. Many of the outdoor holiday decorations - battered about for the past month by winter winds, snow, rain, and cold - look like they have been in a brawl. (Especially the big inflatables in the yards.) The decorations have done their work and appear ready to retreat to their storage boxes to rest.
Though August is often considered the big vacation time where people recharge, I think it is actually the sluggish last week of December when people catch their breath, reflect, and then look ahead.
Happy New Year everyone. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Dec. 31, 2009
Measuring time (Dec. 29, 2009)
Because time is such an elusive thing, we humans compartmentalize it into boxes consisting of seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, and centuries. These are all artificial creations to help us make sense of how our time flees on this the whirling earth as it spins around the sun.
It all seems so tidy until you take into account that every four years we have to tack an extra day onto the year to keep these artificial time gears in sync...and that's just for the Gregorian calendar (named for Pope Gregory XIII of the 16th century) much of the world now uses.
Humans being humans, we cannot even settle on one universal calendar as there also exists a Chinese calendar, Hebrew calendar, Hindu calendar, and a Moslem calendar. In the past, but now gone, there was the Julian calendar of Rome's Julius Caesar as well as an ancient Roman calendar; and don't forget the Mayan calendar which claims we're all doomed in 2012. For a brief time there was the Revolutionary calendar of France that marked time from the French Revolution; but this time measuring system only lasted from 1793 to 1805 when Napoleon abolished it.
Taking all these calendars into consideration means one could choose to celebrate New Year's Day according to a variety of cultures on a number of different days. That's a lot of parties.
Maybe one could choose to celebrate New Year's Day on one's birthday since one's personal year measures from a person's first appearance on earth.
Or maybe New Year's Day could mark a time of great positive change in a person's life, whether it comes in August or April.
New Year's Day is all a state of mind. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Dec. 29, 2009
Faces (Dec. 23, 2009)
There's a commercial on television now that shows a series of inanimate objects or scenes where things are arranged to look like either smiling faces or frowning faces.
For example, it shows the faucets and spill drain in a bathtub that look like a face and a zippered purse with its buckles that also look like eyes and a mouth.
This commercial fascinates me because throughout my life I have entertained myself spotting "faces" in objects or in the grains of woodwork.
This all started long ago with a battered old metal pot lid I found in my mom's kitchen when I was a little kid. I saw the lid in a drawer one day and my eyes fixed on the "face" - made up of two rivets for eyes, a handle for a nose, and vent holes for a mouth - looking back at me. I picked the lid up and as I turned it over I found it had a second face, a little more subdued, on the underside of the lid made up of the same elements as the outer face.
As a kid this old lid became sort of an odd companion, kind of like Tom Hanks and the volleyball in that movie where he was stranded on a desert island.
As I got older I forgot about the lid. But when I became a young man and was moving out of my boyhood home, my mom laughed and tossed me the lid and said, "Don't forget your old friend."
I caught the lid and smiled back at it and packed the bent up old timer in with my things. I still have the lid in my kitchen. It doesn't do any work on top of pots these days. It's too bent up for that. It just kind of hangs out with the other kitchen stuff.
It has dawned on me that I never gave the pot lid with the two faces a name.
Any suggestions? - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Dec. 23, 2009
Names suggested by readers so far for the two faced pot lid: Potter, Pan-I-See-Ya (Panacea), Pothead, Liddy, Potty, Master Po, Pantastic, The Face
The dark (Dec. 22, 2009)
I was born near the winter solstice, that time when the sun shares its daily bright face for the fewest number of hours and, even when it does, it is cloaked in gray.
The timing of my birth is why I think I have an affinity for the dark. My first experience with the world was when the land is at its most shrouded so it just seems natural to me.
Now, I should clarify, I'm not a fan of total darkness. That just seems like a gaping maw of emptiness.
No, I lean toward a kind of dimly lit atmosphere with shadowy folds that soften the landscape as well as smooth the right angles of the indoors. The dark fits and warms me like a comfortable old coat.
I favor the morning hours when the sun is still just barely below the horizon purpling the eastern sky and edging it with gold and red. I also embrace the evening twilight when the sun's slanting rays grow long and the dark flows in filling the gaps.
I'm not averse to the electric light. I use it as needed, such as for reading or doing things that need to be done that require light.
It's odd that I don't really use candles. I think I have one and I'm sure it's got a fine layer of dust on it. Instead, I like flashlights and have had various kinds and sizes throughout my life. They can focus as needed and then click off letting the dark return uninhibited.
Sitting in the dim encourages quiet and allows one to rest and collect oneself.
"Hello darkness my old friend..."
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Dec. 22, 2009
Madison Twp. celebrates its bicentennial in 2010 (Dec. 21, 2009)
In March 2010, Madison Township will celebrate its 200th birthday.
The land that now makes up Madison Township is located in the glacial till plains and once was covered with glacial ice up to 1,000 feet thick.
The first people in the area are believed to have passed through around 100 B.C. and the area is believed to be within the range of the ancient Hopewell people, who were Native Americans noted for the fascinating mounds they left behind in other parts of the state.
Much later, the Wyandot and Shawnee tribes are known to have used the area for hunting.
Carved out of the southeastern corner of Franklin County in 1810, Madison Township, for much of its history, was known as "The garden spot of Franklin County" because its rich, well watered soil made it prime farm land.
Pioneers began to settle the area following the Treaty of Greenville in 1795. The area flourished in the 19th century with rise of well kept farms and the bustling small towns of Groveport and (Canal) Winchester. The coming of the Ohio and Erie Canal, the railroad, and better roads further helped the area develop.
Today, Madison Township has a population of 12,450 in its unincorporated areas. When you include Groveport and Canal Winchester, which are still considered to be in the township, Madison Township's population is about 22,000.
Plans are being made to celebrate the township's bicentennial. Anyone interested in volunteering or sharing historical artifacts or information about Madison Township's history, can contact Madison Township Administrator Larry Flowers at (614) 836-5308.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Dec. 21, 2009
Roll over Beethoven (Dec. 16, 2009)
It's the 239th anniversary of the birth of the great classical music composer Ludwig Van Beethoven this week.
I'm not sure what it says about my knowledge of the refined cultural arts in that the reason I know this bit of history is because of the comic strip "Peanuts" and its piano playing, Beethoven admiring, character Schroeder.
Or, for that matter, that much of my knowledge of classical music in general comes from old Bugs Bunny cartoons, which often used the works of the greats as background music to animated shenanigans; or in television/radio ads that reduced entire movements of symphonies into catchy sales jingles.
I'd like to think old Ludwig would be amused by this crossing of pop and high culture. After all it's one way of keeping his tunes alive for centuries by making the music more accessible and weaving the notes he composed into our lives.
I have three classical record albums in my entire record collection and two of them are Beethoven. I sought them out after hearing snippets of the music in pop culture and being drawn to it. (My third classical music record is of "Peer Gynt," which I purchased because it includes the great "In the Hall of the Mountain King." Come on, you know you've heard this musical passage. Countless rock bands - especially heavy metal ones - have done versions of it besides it being used widely in pop culture.)
So, happy birthday Beethoven. May your powerful and melodic sounds fill concert halls as well as be a part of the soundtrack of pop culture for centuries to come.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Dec. 16, 2009
Comment from Kristi :Rick.....THAT IS SO TRUE....I didn't even know i knew any Beethoven...took a music class one time. Then I was like "hey, I know this."..
Fences (Dec. 14, 2009)
Fences are so common that we rarely think much about them.
We have fenced yards, fenced schoolyards, fenced farms, fenced businesses, and fenced gardens. They are in place to keep things out. They are there to keep things in. They are there for security. They are there for decoration. Sometimes they are even there for spite.
Fences can be made of wood, chain link, wire, brick, stone, metal sheets, even thick bushes.
What are we to make of all this fencing?
The Smithsonian exhibit "Between Fences," which runs from Dec. 29 through January at Groveport Town Hall, 648 Main St., seeks to help us sort out all this partitioning and to remember that, even though a fence is a barrier, it always has a gate.
The exhibit will feature a five panel kiosk display depicting the story of the settling of the United States and the creation of communities and why people build fences, whether it be for privacy, conflict or industry. Touring the exhibit is free. At 7 p.m. on Dec. 29, there will be a 3D craft night for ages 5-14. To register call (614) 836-3333.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Dec. 14, 2009
Comment from Kristi: Did you know the fence around the Topiary Garden downtown used to be around the State House??....little tidbit of useless knowledge.
The couple (Dec. 9, 2009)
On a recent cold, but sunny, winter's day, I went for a walk in the cemetery. I'm prone to taking walks there because it's both a beautiful place and I feel like I'm among friends. Plus I own a grave plot there and it never hurts to check on one's real estate from time to time.
As I strolled amid the familiar headstones I saw a young couple, probably in their 20's, walking arm in arm into the neighboring park from a nearby pond. They did not appear to be talking as they strode up the hill and headed for a weathered picnic table.
They both sat on the tabletop resting their feet on the table's seat. They sat there facing the sun in the southern sky soaking up what warmth its weak winter rays could share.
I began to feel a bit guilty observing them so I continued my walk around the graves, but once in a while looked over at the pair sitting on the table. As I wandered around I began to take special note of the gravesites where married couples were buried side by side. There are many of these sites and it made me glad to know that some love exists for eternity; but sad to know some love has a penchant for wandering off in the twilight.
But does the ethereal nature of love matter just as long as love does exist at a precise moment when it is needed?
I looked over to the young couple just as the young man took off his broad coat and draped it over the shoulders of the young woman and then his own shoulders, like a blanket, so they could huddle and share the warmth to enjoy their time sitting in the sun a little longer. As he did this, the young woman tilted her head to rest it against his shoulder.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Dec. 9, 2009
Comment from Shirley:Nice, Rick! I like your writing.
A day of infamy (Dec. 7, 2009)
Sixty-eight years ago, Dec. 7, 1941, at 7:55 a.m., Japanese warplanes attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, wrecking most of the American planes while they were still on the ground at Oahu, heavily damaging eight battleships, three destroyers, and three cruisers and sinking two battleships - the Oklahoma and the Arizona. The attack killed 2,323 United States soldiers and sailors.
On Dec. 8, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed Congress requesting a formal declaration of war against Japan, which Congress granted.
Roosevelt's speech outlined what had happened at Pearl Harbor as well as Japanese attacks on other islands in the Pacific, but it is most well known for its opening line, "Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy...".
However, not as well known are the powerful words of American resolve Roosevelt expressed at the end of the speech: "No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory. I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again..."
America entered World War II and the rest is history.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Dec. 7, 2009
The curse (Dec. 2, 2009)
My curse is...that I cannot curse. I swear that I cannot swear.
This is a major disadvantage whenever I'm angry; or frustrated; or wanting to shockingly hammer home a point; or make a joke edgy. Instead of blurting out those well known, satisfying, hard consonant, classic Anglo-Saxon curse words in these situations, all that arise are just acceptable variations of those same words (the dull "shoot" or "darn" or "dang" or other such nonsense) or hopeless sputtering groans. I end up just choking on my own rage.
See. Just then? Instead of cursing I used "fine." Often a cynical or sarcastic "fine" is my substitute curse word.
My inability to curse began as a boy on the playground. Ah, the playground, the place where all the real learning takes place in elementary school. The other fellows would spout their newly found curse words and all seemed well. Some of them became so good at it that the words sounded like poetry. But, when I tried it, the ancient words of cursedom just came out flat and awkward like an unattainable foreign language. I can still remember one kid from those days telling me to give up trying because it "didn't sound right" when I tried.
I abandoned the effort in elementary school and junior high, but thought I'd give it another try in high school. But then it was even worse because I had a track record of not cursing. After a couple of attempts in what I thought were appropriately raw situations, I was just subjected to teenage laughter and derision by those within hearing range, which ruined the whole affect I was seeking.
One guy joked, "#%(*&, if you're gonna say stuff like that you better practice first!"
So I gave up my attempts to curse for good.
To this day I still can't effectively curse, except in a grizzly old prospector sort of way...Consarn it anyway by cracky. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Dec. 2, 2009
The same moon (Dec. 1, 2009)
As I was driving in to work early this morning, I was awed by the sight of a nearly full moon low on the western horizon.
From that perspective, the moon appeared huge and bright, it's reflected light from the sun sometimes appearing stark white and at other times a soft yellow.
The moon looked magnificent in the darkened sky and made the man made lights below seem feeble and paltry.
As I drove along, the road changed my view of the moon. Sometimes the moon's white light peeked out through the leafless branches of tall trees. Other times its orb seemed to bounce along the treetops as I propelled along. At some spots the moon stood alone, owning the sky and throwing a gentle glow on all that was below.
From its perch in the distant sky, the moon is a beautiful vision that blocks the reality of its bleak surface and instead graces us with mystery and inspires soulful thought.
This is the same moon, on its monthly journey from new to full, that the Shawnee watched pass over the area more than 200 years ago. For that matter, it's the same moon people all over the world see and have always seen. It's the same moon that connects us all through time and space. It's the same moon for all of us to share and enjoy its soft light.
It's the same moon I once shared with those who I once knew so well.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Dec. 1, 2009
The blanket (Nov. 24, 2009)
I do not fear the coming of winter's icy fingers because I recently came into possession of a woolly artifact that scoffs at the cold - my grandmother's old carriage blanket.
I don't know much about the history of this blanket other than my grandmother, Mae Woods, used it to keep her warm in her younger days in the early 20th century when riding in horse drawn wagons or carriages during the winter.
This is a formidable, yet cozy, blanket. It is as tough and as warm as Mae was. The massive wool blanket is black on one side and red and gold on the other and in great condition. It also feels as heavy as armor. Draping this blanket around me, it feels like it weighs as much as I do.
But, man, is it warm under that armor of thick wool. Frosty air must be frustrated as it tries to creep into the blanket's dense fibers only to find there's no way in to do its chilling work.
As I sit under the woolly armor on my couch on these already chilly nights, lit by the glow of the TV instead of the light of the crackling fireplace of old, I think about my grandmother bouncing along the farm lane or country roads in a carriage on the way to church, or to town, or to visit someone. The horse drawn carriage probably seemed as modern to her as a car does to us now. She no doubt climbed into the carriage seat, pulled up the heavy blanket and settled in for the ride; just like we hop in the car today and flip on the heater without thinking about it. It's just what one does.
It's such a simple, yet effective thing, this old blanket. Now I have it and it's still doing its job. The blanket probably thinks it's an easy task to warm someone who is in a heated house and not rolling along some windy, frosty road. I can almost hear Mae's musical laugh rising from its folds.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Nov. 24, 2009
The good Browns (Nov. 23, 2009)
Gather 'round children and let me tell you about how the Cleveland Browns were once a great football team.
It was way back in ancient times, in a time before such things as the Super Bowl or ESPN. In those days there was the NFL championship game and plain old network television. Players didn't have massive contracts and usually had second jobs in the off season.
The year was 1964 and the Browns were the champions of the NFL. Yes, I used "Browns" and "champions" in the same sentence because it's true. I know that's hard for you to believe seeing the Browns of today.
They played in the rusty and imposing Cleveland Municipal Stadium on a field that was often more mud than grass.
The coach was Blanton Collier, a low key fellow who took over the coaching reins from the legendary Paul Brown who himself had lead the Browns to football dominance in the late 1940s and 1950s.
The 1964 Browns featured the great Jim Brown at running back, the cerebral Frank Ryan at quarterback, the nimble Gary Collins and quick Paul Warfield at wide receiver.
In 1964 the Browns, 10-3-1, faced the Baltimore Colts, 12-2, (in the days when no one thought Indianapolis would ever have an NFL team) in the title game in Cleveland. The Colts were a dominant team, led by Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas, and were expected to crush the Browns.
Much to everyone's amazement, the game was scoreless at halftime. Had the Browns really shut out Unitas and the high scoring Colts? Yep, but the Colts had also blanked the Browns.
But, in the second half, Ryan and Collins connected for three touchdown passes and Lou "The Toe" Groza added two field goals while the Browns defense continued to confuse and shut down the Colts. When it was over the Browns won 27-0 and claimed what would be their last title.
I was nine-years-old at the time and thought the Browns would be in the championship hunt every year. That hasn't happened as the only similarity between the "new" Browns and the "old" Browns are the classic uniforms.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Nov. 23, 2009
The trees (Nov. 19, 2009)
The stand of trees stood out starkly against the steel gray morning sky.
As I drove down the rural road lined on both sides by the brown stubble of recently harvested corn, I could see the trees marked the outline of a property where a house and yard once stood.
From the looks of it, the house has been gone a long time. The grass and brush has grown scraggily at the foot of the trees. But an open area with tall wispy grass remains where the house used to be.
I thought about how someone long ago planted these now large trees to shade the house; or maybe the trees were there and the homeowner thought it a pleasant spot and built the house there.
I wondered about the people who lived there over the years. How they would hear a soft wind rustling the leaves on a hot summer day or hear the trees cracking under the ice of a harsh winter.
This spot must have once had the swirl of life when the house stood there. Comings and goings. Working times. Fun times. Happy times. Sad times. The trees watched them all unfurl.
One day the house was abandoned for some reason. The trees stood watch as a bulldozer probably collapsed the house and trucks carted it's remains away along with whatever memories still lingered there.
Now, on this gray November day, the trees stand there alone in the quiet, their bony branches reaching out.
Comment from Mike:
Well done. Makes a fitting bookend to your April blog "The Flowers"...similar themes.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Nov. 19, 2009
Where is Cruiser buried? (Nov. 18, 2009)
"Where is Cruiser buried?"
That's the most common question I'm asked while acting in my other persona as volunteer director of the Groveport Heritage Museum.
Cruiser, the famed spirited stallion owned and tamed by Groveport's John S. Rarey, was born in 1852 and passed away in 1875, nine years after his beloved owner.
According to author Nancy Bowker in her book, "John Rarey, Horse Tamer," Cruiser passed away in his barn behind the Rarey mansion, Cedarlawn, at the age of 23 on July 7, 1875. Bowker wrote, "Cruiser was in rather good condition for a 23-year-old horse, but the years of eating grain had worn his teeth down to such an extent that he couldn't eat hay; so he was given special, soft food...When the summer came, Cruiser was starting to look as if time were placing a heavy hand on him. On Wednesday, July 7, heavy clouds released a torrent of rain. As the raindrops drummed on the barn roof, the celebrated stallion lay down for the last time."
Cruiser was so famous that the New York Times newspaper ran a lengthy obituary about him.
Cruiser, because of his fierce spirit and intelligence, became the mascot of Groveport Madison sports teams in the early 20th century. Due to this status and his storied history, Cruiser remains a subject of great interest in the Groveport area.
So, where is Cruiser buried?
According to the Rarey family, Cruiser was buried a few feet from his stable, which stood about 100 feet behind Rarey's mansion. The Rarey mansion, known as Cedarlawn and later as the Elmont Hotel, once stood on the site of what is now Groveport Madison Junior High School on Main Street in Groveport. This places Cruiser's grave approximately somewhere on the football field that now sits behind the school. It has been said the Rarey family did not mark Cruiser's grave because they feared curiosity seekers or grave robbers would disturb the proud horse's grave.
For more information on Rarey and Cruiser, I recommend Nancy Bowker's book, "John Rarey, Horse Tamer." It is the best researched and best written book on Rarey and Cruiser I have ever read. To obtain the book, write to: Nancy Bowker, 1441 Monmouth Road, Eastampton, New Jersey 08060.
The Groveport Heritage Museum, located in Groveport Town Hall, 648 Main St., also has an exhibit on Rarey and Cruiser history. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Nov. 18, 2009
I'm free (Nov. 16, 2009)
I've finally done it.
At long last I have freed myself from watching the Sunday morning television news opinion shows.
My addiction to these political talkfests all started innocently enough back in my salad days when I was determined to become a "serious" person. My fixation began with "Meet the Press" and grew to include "Face the Nation" (a really ominous sounding title, don't you think...I mean it sounds like a cross examination) and later "This Week with David Brinkley."
I'd watch the shows and devour the opinions bantered about and dissect the interviews with national newsmakers. My favorite was the Brinkley program because, due to his years of experience, he had a nice little bemused cynicism to his approach.
My devotion to these shows began to crack when Brinkley retired. His replacements just seemed like the typical cookie cutter Ivy League type the television networks love to trot out. My loyal viewing also waivered because, the older I got the more I became like Brinkley - a bemused cynic.
I came to realize these talky shows aren't about news, they are about entertainment...and bad entertainment at that. With the guests and show regulars talking in soundbites and bombast, there's more of the circus about these shows than the intellect.
As time wore on I watched these shows less and less till I no longer sought them out. There are better places to find national news and stronger sources for in depth, considered opinion. One just has to look for them.
I'm free. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Nov. 16, 2009
Friday the 13th (Nov. 13, 2009)
Yeesh! That's a mouthful. The word describes the human fear of Friday the 13th. To me the word itself is more frightening than the day, especially for a spelling bee participant.
Fear of Friday the 13th is one of those artificial, human creations. People in ancient times came up with names for the days of the week, numbers, and everything else (gotta love who came up with "platypus"). It is our human penchant to then separate these named things into "good" and "evil" so that even logical things like mathematical numbers can't escape our arbitrary categorization.
Somehow 12 became the "good" number and "13" the bad number. There are 12 months of the year; Jesus had 12 apostles; the 12 trials of Hercules; 12 Norse gods; 12 gods on Olympus; a dozen donuts...good things.
Then we invent the "bad" for poor old 13: 13 in a coven (12 witches plus Old Scratch, the devil himself, to top it off); 13 steps on a gallows; 13 people at the Last Supper; 13 beings at the Norse gods' dinner where their beloved Balder dies...
Couple 13 with the distrust of Friday as a day when lots of bad things happened biblically - Jesus' crucifixion; Cain killing Abel; Eve tempting Adam - and you have a foreboding day people just want to avoid by staying in bed.
I feel bad for 13. I kind of like the forlorn number. So much so it was my jersey number when I played basketball in high school.
Plus, without 13, we wouldn't have a baker's dozen, and who wouldn't like to have 13 donuts instead of 12?
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Nov. 13, 2009
Groveport, November 1918 (Nov. 10, 2009)
The bloody tragedy that was World War I came to an end with the signing of
the armistice at the 11th hour, on the 11th day, of the 11th month in 1918.
News traveled slower in those days and word of the war¹s end trickled into
Groveport in the early morning hours of Nov. 12, 1918.
At 4 a.m. someone entered the old school house, that once sat where the
Naomi Court neighborhood now stands, and rang the school bell persistently
The townspeople, curious about the ringing of the bell, came outside and
began to talk with each other. Word spread that the war had ended and peace
was at hand. Soon all the village church bells were ringing in chorus with
the school bell.
A crowd informally gathered in downtown Groveport as people sought out a
common public place to share their happiness. No bands played and there were
no formal speeches. Instead the music was the sound of happy voices and the
oratory was the occasional shouts of joy that punctuated the air.
The war was over. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Nov. 10, 2009
The power of song (Nov. 9, 2009)
Leonard Cohen is one of those singers/musicians who has seemingly been around forever, who is often cited as a significant influence on numerous musicians, and who catches only glancing rays of the limelight.
I've heard about him for many years as his name pops up in music articles and in interviews with artists. But I never followed up on him to see what he was about.
Then, this past weekend, a friend of mine, who has recently discovered YouTube and frequently explores its offerings, sat me down at his computer and brought up a massive list of performances of Cohen's song, "Hallelujah" by different artists and by Cohen himself.
I was riveted and awed by the song's depth. What I heard was a mesmerizing song rich with emotion and intellect that seems open to a wide range of interpretation by whoever hears it. A sign of a song's beauty and power is when each individual listener and performer can internalize it and make it one's own.
Two of the performances of the song I found the most moving were done by k.d. lang and Jeff Buckley.
For a pleasant experience, check out this song and some of the performances that make it come alive.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Nov. 9, 2009
Insomnia (Nov. 6, 2009)
Lately, no matter what time I go to bed, I've been waking up for no reason right around 2:45 a.m. Sometimes I can get back to sleep, but other times it's a fitful struggle to squeeze out a few more ZZZZ's till it's time to really get up and about.
Last night I decided not to fight it and just got up. The first thing one notices about "the middle of the night" is how quiet it is.
I peer out the window. No traffic. No people outside. No squirrels flitting about. Then I detect movement. It's an orange feral cat prowling around in the yard, it's tail straight up as it bounces from an open area to a bush. Did it see something to pounce on? If it did, the cat missed it because the furry hunter sat down and just looked around for a few seconds before skulking away into the shadows.
I stay at the window and gaze out on the darkened, frosty lawn. It seems like just a few days ago that the peonies were blooming and the grass was fresh and green. Now it's all gone to sleep.
Time for me to try to do the same.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Nov. 6, 2009
Voting (Nov. 3, 2009)
I can remember the first time I ever entered a polling place. I was around five-years-old and recall walking with my mom into the voting booth. As she drew the curtain on that old voting machine - though my little kid brain had no idea what was going on - I felt like I was in a special place. Turns out I was because voting is a special and precious act. An act to be considered seriously and to be done for the greater good.
That's why it was unsettling this morning to walk into my polling place and only see three other citizens there to vote.
I know people feel alienated by the political system and question if their vote "really counts." Well, in a local election like this year, more so than other elections, your one vote can make a difference because the pool of voters is smaller for council, township trustee, and school board candidates. I've seen local candidates win by one vote before. That one vote could be yours.
I know people feel powerless dealing with the big time politicians in Washington, D.C., or even in the state capital of Columbus because of the large numbers involved. One rarely, if ever, personally sees their elected national or state politicians. It's still no excuse for not voting in those races. The vote is the one button in the complicated political system we control.
Local elections are different. These are candidates you can see every day around the town or township where you live. You can talk to them directly and let them know what you think.
The people you place in office in these local elections have a direct impact on your every day life. They make decisions about the condition of your streets, the water you drink, how your sewage flows away, your recreational opportunities, getting snow plowed, how your neighborhood is zoned, what type of economic development pops up, what goes on your child's classroom, how your school buildings operate, how your fire department functions, how your police department functions, and much more. Because of these things citizens have to make an effort to make sure good people fill these local elected slots.
I'm hoping the number of people voting picks up during the day. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Nov. 3, 2009
The names in the courtyard (Nov. 2, 2009)
Last week in this blog (see "Remembering" Oct. 26 entry) I wrote about the names of the people who are honored with trees and plaques in the courtyard of Groveport Elementary.
Thanks to some information provided by Groveport Village Councilwoman Jean Ann Hilbert, a retired teacher who taught at the school, I can share with you some information about those who are honored there.
•Richard Martin, Jr. - He was the parent of Kimberly Martin and uncle to former Groveport police officer Matt Cline. "I had them (Kimberly and Matt) in my fourth grade class the year Richard died," said Hilbert. Richard died in a traffic accident. "It was an awful, tragic accident," said Hilbert.
•Frank Voyda - "Frank was a grandfather who volunteered every day at school," said Hilbert. "He was just a super guy."
•Clair "Red" Stansbury - "He was the best custodian ever," said Hilbert.
•Karen Hutchison - She was a first grade teacher who passed away after a battle with cancer. "'Hutch' was a great teacher and a great lady," said Hilbert.
•Tom Stevenson - He was a principal at the school. The butterfly garden was planted in recognition of his retirement.
•Virginia Wright - Unfortunately, I have no further information on her. If anyone does, please contact me.
•Last, but most notably, is Paul "Pete" Glendening. Born in 1898, he served the Groveport Madison School District as a teacher, coach, and principal at Groveport School from 1922 to 1969. He passed away in 1978.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Nov. 2, 2009
A Halloween Story (Oct. 28, 2009)
He'd worked there for so many years that he felt himself blending into the beige cubicle walls of his downtown skyscraper corporate office. A fading feeling begged for a shot of color to revive him. He needed to do something.
The next day was one of those bright October days of high blue skies and intensely clear air. The kind of day where the slanted sunlight of autumn seemed to electrify the orange, red, and yellow of the trees. It was a Wednesday, not a typical day of the week to take off, but he needed it and did so.
He drove out to a rural park and happily saw there was not a single car in the parking lot. He had the park to himself. He pulled in, breathed deeply, and set off to walk the trail.
Leaves crunched and rustled beneath his feet as he walked up and down the wooded hills. Squirrels and chipmunks could be heard bouncing about. Crows cawed.
Thoughts seemed bigger in the woods. The daily trivia of life melted away. Maybe there was meaning to be found here. The slightly chilled air and the bright colors of the landscape slowly cleared his head. Lost in thoughts of fleeting love, life's wonders and death's shadowy folds, he walked steadily through the woods.
As he crested a hill his swirling thoughts were disrupted when he was surprised to see an old man sitting on a bench by the trail.
"Where did he come from," he thought. "No cars in the parking lot. No homes nearby."
The old man was dressed in old style work clothes and scuffed boots, clean but worn. As he sat on the bench he was bent forward slightly, leaning on a weathered branch that he used as a walking stick.
As he walked past the bench, he and the old man did not speak, but their eyes met for an instant. The old man's eyes were clear and his gaze intent. They nodded a silent hello to each other as he passed.
Just a few footsteps and a moment later, he noticed the sounds of the woods ceased with a suddenness. No birds singing. No squirrels bounding. No breeze fluttering leaves. A slight chill touched the air.
He turned around and saw the bench where the old man had been sitting was empty. The old man was not to be seen anywhere on the trail. There were no sounds of anyone walking away in the leaves off trail. He carefully looked all around, but could not find the old man. As he stood there he heard the sounds of the woodlands return.
He walked back up the trail to the hill crest for a better view of the rolling woodlands...he saw seemingly unending trees and fallen leaves, but he was alone.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Oct. 28, 2009
Comment from Kathryn:
Seriously. That is awesome!
Remembering (Oct. 26, 2009)
Last Saturday I attended a memorial and tree dedication service for Shirley Brobst in the front courtyard of Groveport Madison Junior High School.
Brobst passed away last December and had worked for the Groveport Madison school district for 39 years as a member of the support staff.
A small crowd of friends and family attended and shared their thoughts about Shirley, the most moving of which was a poignant speech made by her daughter-in-law Stephanie Brobst.
Following the ceremony I wandered around the courtyards of the junior high and neighboring Groveport Elementary and noted the other memorial trees and plaques in place there.
At the junior high (formerly the high school) there is a tree that was planted in honor of the class of 1970, last class to graduate from that building. There's also a historical marker for John S. Rarey and his horse, Cruiser. The school stands on the site of where Rarey's mansion once stood.
In the Groveport Elementary courtyard there are numerous plaques and memorial trees. Most notably there's one for Paul "Pete" Glendening, who served the school as a teacher, coach and principal from 1922 to 1969. Others honored with trees and plaques are: Virginia Wright, a sixth grade teacher, 1960; Karen Hutchison, 1946-85, a teacher for 16 years; Clair D. "Red" Stansbury, 1997; Frank Voyda, 1998; and Richard L. Martin, Jr. (flagpole). There's a recognition of Tom Stevenson's years as a principal at the butterfly garden.
Finally, the World War II veterans memorial boulder stands out, placed in the courtyard in 1946 by the Groveport Lions Club. Accompanying the boulder is a roll of honor in the school's foyer that lists the names of Groveport military personnel who served in World War II.
These trees and plaques are simple remembrances, but they are important because they recognize the efforts and character of those who served their community in a positive way. It is people like these who are the glue that hold a community together. When you have some time, take a walk through these beautiful courtyards, look upon the trees and grounds, and contemplate the people recognized there.
Remember their names.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Oct. 26, 2009
Scarecrows then & now (Oct. 22, 2009)
You probably won't see many crows flying around Groveport's Main Street in the days before Halloween.
That's because the street is lined with some amazing looking scarecrows.
The scarecrows - created by area businesses, civic organizations, and non-profit groups and attached to streetlight poles - are a colorful annual Halloween tradition in Groveport organized by Groveport Town Hall.
A little scarecrow history...
The idea of using scarecrows in various forms to protect crops appears to have been universal dating back to ancient times in Egypt, Greece, Japan, and among early North American Native Americans.
During the Middle Ages in Europe young children were used as live scarecrows as they were sent into the fields to chase and toss small stones at the crows to send the pesky birds flying away. Later, after epidemics in that era tragically reduced the population, the idea of stuffing straw into raggedy clothes to create the scarecrow as we know it arose. European immigrants brought this particular concept with them when they settled North America.
The Groveport "scarecrow parade" creators seem particularly inspired this year. There's a lot of good scarecrows including a straw man, a Cruiser, a beauty queen, a circuit riding preacher, and many more.
Check them out next time you're walking or driving down Main Street.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Oct. 22, 2009
Snakes on a path (Oct. 21, 2009)
Is that a stick or a garter snake?
That was a question that frequently popped into my mind while bicycling the Three Creeks Metro Parks bike trail yesterday.
The golden late afternoon autumnal sun had brought the little snakes out to warm themselves on the asphalt bike path. Throughout my long ride I wheeled past almost two dozen of them either stretched out or curled up on the path. Some were easily seen as they were on a clear part of the path. But other times the snakes were mixed in with the fallen leaves and twigs. This required a high level of alertness on my part as my bike crunched through the tree rubble.
The thought process went like this: "Is that a curved stick or a lolling snake? Whoa, it's a snake!" Which prompted a swift swerve of the handle bars to avoid a squishing.
I'm happy to report that I did not run over any of slender slitherers.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Oct. 21, 2009
Yellow Jacket War, part 2 (Oct. 19, 2009)
Regular readers of this blog will remember my battle with the yellow jackets who invaded my front porch earlier this fall.
I won that pitched battle and was ready for a return to normalcy. I didn't expect the yellow jackets would resort to guerrilla warfare.
On Oct. 18 I was enjoying the October sun while taking photos of the "Fall Ball for Pets" at the Groveport Log House for the newspaper. I got my photos and readied myself to leave. I reached into my front pants pocket for my keys when I felt a sharp sting on my hand. I quickly pulled my hand out of my pocket and saw it redden immediately.
I looked into my pocket and discovered that a yellow jacket guerrilla had somehow gotten into my pants pocket and lay in wait to ambush me!
After the attack, the bug crawled to the top of my pocket defiantly twitching its antenna at me.
I unceremoniously flicked it away with my fingers.
The yellow jacket may have exacted a bit of revenge, but I will have the last laugh when the heavy frosts settle on the land.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Oct. 19, 2009
The Halloween Cat (Oct. 15, 2009)
On the front page of this weekend's Southeast Messenger (edition dated Oct. 19) you'll see a trick or treat schedule adorned with a photo of a cool black cat.
I've run this photo with the trick or treat schedule in the paper every year for several years now (the one year I didn't I received an amazing number of phone calls from readers asking me why I didn't run the "cat photo," so ever since then the cat makes its annual photogenic Halloween appearance).
People often ask me about the cat and how I got the photo.
I took the photo a few years ago at the Schacht Farm Market on Shannon Road. I was there just taking some colorful pumpkin photos for the Messenger when the farm cat casually strolled up beside me. I saw the cat strike this purrrrfect pose and quickly snapped the picture. Good thing I was fast, too, because, as soon as I got the shot, the cat swiftly ran off to do whatever cats do. The cat had granted me the pose for at most five seconds. Just long enough for the photo.
Happy Halloween to all you cats out there.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Oct. 15, 2009
Apple Butter Day(Oct. 12, 2009)
Greatest Apple Butter Day ever.
Okay, maybe that's bit of hyperbole, but it sure felt like a fantastic day to me.
The weather was near perfect with soaring blue skies, golden sunlight, and cool enough to make the pesky yellow jackets sluggish.
Three old friends and I started the day with our traditional cornbread and bean soup dinner. On the way in to the dinner, Jan Dowler showed off her green and gold John Deere tractor outfit and asked if I wanted to take a picture.
"Nah, I'm a Farmall guy," I laughed.
The bean soup was wonderfully thick and zesty this year. An added bonus for my vain self was Bert, a Groveport municipal worker who was volunteering to serve up bean soup, calling me "Scoop" in a nod to my job as editor of the Southeast Messenger. I love those old 1940s journalistic references.
Then my three friends (the Wyatt boys, Mark and Matt, and Rich Gibbons) and I wandered about to soak up the local character that is Apple Butter Day in Groveport.
This being an election year, we were approached by a lot of political candidates running for office this year. These encounters featured lively and fun discussions that ranged from political issues to good natured ribbing to shared memories of other non-political matters.
We then made our way to the log house for warm apple butter slathered on homemade bread. (Matt always asks for the bread loaf's heel and gets it.) Once outside with our treat, a lone, seemingly demoralized yellow jacket hovered about seeking a taste of apple butter, but the insect's heart just didn't seem into being a pest and he just floated in the air for the most part.
How could I forget to mention the yardsticks! Yes, all four of us, as did many others, picked up yardsticks from the Groveport Police booth. The yardsticks seemed as popular as the apple butter. No metric system for us! (We disdain the metric system's dull sameness. We prefer the more colorful and challenging English systems and I wowed my friends by citing an obscure English system measurement called a hogs head, which is 63 gallons.)
We walked around some more, listened to music, talked to more people, soaked up the sun, and then moved on for a walk about town. We strolled down the old interurban path to take a look at the restored Ohio and Erie Canal Lock 22.
Mark remarked that walking through town and along the old path was like time traveling and he felt like a kid again.
While walking the dirt and gravel path to the canal lock, we could see and hear a mechanical marvel on the nearby railroad as it rolled along the rails trimming brush and uprooting small trees along the railroad right of way. What a sound it made - "crreeeeuunnncchhh!"
We marvelled at the the old canal lock. It looks pretty good for being nearly 180 years old.
We ambled back to Apple Butter Day for more of what it had to offer - food, Civil War re-enactors, farm tractors, odds and ends for sale...but in the end the best thing about Apple Butter Day is the people.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Oct. 12, 2009
Ties to Canal Winchester (Oct. 8, 2009)
I reflect fondly about Groveport a lot on this blog, mostly because I grew up there and still live there.
The place has deep meaning to me.
But I, and the Palsgrove family, have strong ties to Canal Winchester, too:
•For many years, my great uncles Leo, Merlin, and Maurice, and grandfather Millard, operated Palsgrove Manufacturing, making farm equipment, on Winchester Pike.
•In her later years my grandmother, Edna Palsgrove, lived in a neat, little home on historic West Mound Street in Canal Winchester. She always had beautiful flowers in her yard. West Mound Street is still one of my favorite neighborhoods in Canal Winchester.
•I got my first tricycle when I was a little tyke from Bolenbaugh's in Canal Winchester. I can remember the Bolenbaugh salesperson bringing the tricycle down from the dusty loft in the store. The tricycle was dark green with a smooth metal seat and thick black tires. I loved that tricycle and rode it and rode it (till I outgrew it) on the sidewalk (a sidewalk that is no longer there) that ran by our home on Clark Court.
•Bolenbaugh's is also where I got my first baseball glove while elementary school student. There was a row of brown ball gloves on the shelf, but I spotted a black one and chose it to be different. I never was much of a baseball player, but that wasn't the glove's fault. It was a great glove.
•I still go to Bolenbaugh's whenever I need hardware. I feel comfortable there.
•My eye doctor is in Canal Winchester. I've been going to see Dr. McClurg there since I was in the third grade. He's always taken great care of me.
•Likewise my dentist of many years, Dr.William Mills, is in Canal Winchester. We have good talks about history and current events when I see him even though I do have dental tools in my mouth!
•I liked Canal Winchester High School's old gymnasium (now the Oley Speaks auditorium) in the old Washington Street school. I was on Groveport basketball teams that played against the Indians there many times. I enjoyed the sense of history and the quirkiness of that old gym. I miss it.
•I attended many family funerals at the former Spence funeral home on High Street and some at their new place. Few things reinforce bonds to family and community such as a funeral. It was good to be in familiar Canal Winchester when those sad times arose.
Though Groveport is my home and where my heart is, Canal Winchester, too, is a special place to me.
The roots of both grow together.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Oct. 8, 2009
Waiting (Oct. 6, 2009)
Piles of pills clacked into orange plastic bottles followed by the snap of the bottle cap. Then, with a ruffling sound, the newly filled prescriptions were swiftly stuffed into a paper bag followed by the click of a stapler attaching the prescription paperwork.
I watched and heard these actions performed repeatedly and rapidly while waiting for my seasonal flu shot at the pharmacy. The pharmacists and their assistants appeared to be deeply concentrating on their work as they tried to keep up with the large crowd of customers that awaited their medicinal orders.
It was the most crowded I'd ever seen the pharmacy and the strain of the demand pushed the workers. In watching them work, there appeared to be an awareness in their actions and on their faces that they were being pressed to complete their serious tasks - checking paperwork, filling bottles, answering questions, greeting customers. They kept up a rhythm to their work and one by one they served their customers as fast as they could.
The customers waited in a line because that's what we do in a civil society. We learned that long ago in our youth. We wait our turn. Some were patient. Some shifted their weight from foot to foot, craning their necks to look inside the pharmacy to see what might be taking so long. Some seemed stressed by the wait. Some sighed. Some of the customers appeared to not be feeling well and in need of their medicine. Some stood stoically. Occasionally a low murmur of discontent would float through the crowd while at other times gentle laughter rose as friends found each other as the line slowly inched forward.
My turn came and I got my flu shot. The face and voice of the pharmacy professional who gave me the shot was pleasant, her humanity seemingly defiant of the work strain that swirled around her. I found myself feeling proud of her even though I did not know her.
I paid my bill and walked from the pharmacy. I turned and looked back once more and saw the line move slightly forward. Progress. I made a silent wish that all those in the line and the busy pharmacy workers would be well. I hope they are.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Oct. 6, 2009
Peonies (Oct. 5, 2009)
This past weekend I mowed down what was left of the peonies in my backyard. (I call them "pineys," instead of "pea-o-nies." Must be a local dialect. But I like it.)
The cutting down of the peonies is a sign of winter for me. I usually delay it for as long as I can in the fall, but this year an early cold snap turned the once majestic green leaves black and brown.
The bushy peonies are one of my favorite plants in the yard. (They're also a favorite of rabbits who duck into them for cover.) I look forward to the peonies' big pink and white blooms in late May every year. The blooms only last a few weeks, but their memory lingers.
But now the peonies bed is just stubble awaiting the winter cold. The rabbits will have to find a new hiding place till spring.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Oct. 5, 2009
Cruisers set record (Oct. 4, 2009)
The Groveport Madison Cruisers varsity football squad defeated Newark 76-7 on Oct. 2.
It was the most points scored in a game for a Cruiser football team and the most since the 1944 squad beat Liberty Union 64-0. (In that game Kenny Zarbaugh scored six touchdowns.)
In the Newark game, the Cruisers scored touchdowns five different ways by running, passing, a kick return, an interception return, and a fumble return.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Oct. 4, 2009
Linger and look (Sept. 30, 2009)
If you get a chance, stop by Groveport Elementary and Groveport Madison Junior High and see the National Register of Historic Places plaques that have been attached to the outside front of the buildings.
The two schools were placed on the National Register this summer for their historic and architectural significance.
The plaque at Groveport Elementary is to the right of the main front entryway. The one on the Junior High is by the front doors of the gym and is located by the 1952 plaque noting the building's construction.
These are two great old school buildings. While you're looking at the plaques, step back and drink in the architectural beauty of the red brick buildings.
Groveport Elementary, built in 1923, has a grand, sweeping style that is both welcoming and weighty. It speaks of the depth and substance of education. Warm wood and glazed brick highlight the classrooms while the elegant auditorium and classic gymnasium are grand public spaces.
Groveport Madison Junior High is a bit quirky. Built in a modern 1950s style in three phases, the school belies its spartan outer appearance with blonde woodwork, a patchwork of hallways, and a mammoth gymnasium.
The schools play a central role in the community of imparting knowledge. But they also grace the streetscape with their pleasing appearance.
Linger and take a look.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Sept. 30, 2009
Twittering and Tweeting (Sept. 28, 2009)
That was the e-mailed message I received from an old friend after I sent out a notice that the Southeast Messenger newspaper is now on Twitter. (You can find it at Twitter.com/SE_Messenger).
Granted, I still maintain the romantic notion of being a small town newspaper editor in a storefront newsroom on Main Street in Groveport, circa 1890, typing away on a manual typewriter, with my trusty printing press in the back room, and enjoying the life of an ink stained wretch.
But, that was then. This is now.
Yes, I'm now all a Twitter. It's part of my goal to fully enter the 21st century this year. (Yes, I'm about a decade late, but better to be a decade late than late and decayed.)
My master plan to modernize began with a leap this summer when for the first time in my life I got cable TV. Then I abandoned my prehistoric dial up Internet connection and obtained high speed Internet.
Then last week I put the Southeast Messenger on Twitter.
Now you can get Tweets that will enable you to get your local news faster via your computer. It's easy. You can sign up right on the Southeast Messenger Twitter page.
Next step in my 21st century electronic journey? Texting. (Shudder.)
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Sept. 28, 2009
What's with the "bells?" (Sept. 22, 2009)
If you've driven through the intersection of Greenpointe Drive and Groveport Road you've seen them...the "bells."
At least they look like bells.
There are four of the grayish/black objects sitting on the ground at the four corners of the intersection just off the road.
Just what are those things and why are they there? The obvious answer is they were placed there by space aliens from the planet Belldovia to monitor us. But the obvious answer is never right.
So I asked Groveport Public Works Superintendent Dennis Moore what the roadside objects were and why they are there. I asked Dennis because, if it's happening on the streets of Groveport, he'll know about it.
He told me the "bells" are there to prevent large semi-trucks from cutting the corners on the intersection too close when they turn. When the trucks cut the corner, they gouge out the soft ground beyond the pavement creating holes.
Dennis said the "bells" are made of cast iron and secured to posts that are buried four feet into the ground.
The drivers see the bells in the way so, therefore, they don't cut the corner.
It's the beauty of simple ingenuity at work.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Sept. 22, 2009
The book redux (Sept. 21, 2009)
Okay, I'm quite the tease according to the many e-mails and phone calls I received about my previous blog, "The book."
Everyone who contacted me wanted to know what book I was referring to. The book is "Catch-22" by Joseph Heller.
I love that book.
Readers also were curious about some of my other favorite books and stories of fiction and authors. Here's a sampling of my favorites in no particular order:
•Anything by Jack Kerouac, but "Maggie Cassidy" is my favorite of his.
• "A Confederacy of Dunces."
• "To Kill a Mockingbird."
• "Huckleberry Finn" and "Innocents Abroad" by Mark Twain.
• "Winesburg, Ohio." (I think Sherwood Anderson is an underrated genius.)
• "Human Comedy" (I like William Saroyan's short stories immensely as well.)
• "Grapes of Wrath" and "Travels with Charley" by John Steinbeck.
• "Of Human Bondage" and "A Writer's Notebook" by Somerset Maughm.
• Washington Irving's "Rip Van Winkle" and "Legend of Sleepy Hollow."
• "The Unbearable Lightness of Being."
• "Moby Dick."
• "Slaughterhouse Five."
• "Catcher in the Rye" "Franny and Zooey," and "Raise High the Roofbeams," by J. D. Salinger.
...and many others.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Sept. 21, 2009
The book (Sept. 18, 2009)
I lifted the book from the table and flipped the pages rapidly with my thumb - pfffffffffffffffffff flap - till I reached the end.
I looked at the cover, its paperback corners a bit bent, and recalled how happy I was when I bought it 30 years ago in expectation of the mixture of madness, humor, and cyncism contained in its pages.
It was a book I read quickly back then. Devouring the pages, never wanting it to end. Should I slow down and savor it? Should I plunge on and immerse myself in it? I chose the latter and didn't regret it.
The book stuck with me all these years as I saw its themes play out in the broader world.
Looking at the book now, I wondered, if I were to read it again, would it hold up? So often things we read or enjoy from our youth lose their luster over time.
Dare I read it again, or let my memories of it continue to fulfill?
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Sept. 18, 2009
Random observations (Sept. 16, 2009)
Some recent random observations:
•One morning while playing The Who's "Baba O'Riley" on CD, I happened to look out my window and, while the fast paced opening synthesizer notes of the song tripped along, I saw three squirrels darting about my front yard flicking their tails and chasing in each other seemingly in time with the music. It made me laugh.
•Does anyone else remember the old wooden message board that used to stand at the northwest corner of the Groveport Elementary courtyard at Main Street? Each fall the white painted board featured, in black hand lettering, the Cruiser football schedule. I kind of miss seeing it.
•The bright purple ironweed at Three Creeks Metro Park has faded to brown. It has given way to the glowing goldenrod, a flower that seems even more golden in the slanted rays of the late afternoon sun.
•The leaves of the locust trees in Groveport are already turning yellow. Many of the bright little leaves have fallen onto the streets and curb gutters giving the appearance of streets paved with gold.
•The spider webs of September are back clinging to plants and porches. I like seeing them in the early morning light when the dew makes them look silver.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Sept. 16, 2009
Bell's success recalls great run of the past (Sept. 14, 2009)
Running back Le'Veon Bell is a sensation this season on the Groveport Madison Cruiser varsity football squad.
He racked up 228 yards rushing and four touchdowns in the Cruisers' 55-34 win over Marysville; and 338 yards and four touchdowns in the team's 35-20 win over Dublin Jerome.
If he keeps this pace, Bell could become the greatest running back in the school's history, and there have been many great Cruiser running backs over the years - Mac Sims in the 1930s, Kenny Zarbaugh in the 1940s, and many others.
One of Bell's touchdown runs against Jerome was a 98 yard dash to paydirt, the second longest touchdown run in Cruiser football history.
Do you know who holds the record for the Cruisers' longest TD run?
It's Tom Reichelderfer, who ran 99 yards for a touchdown against Grove City on Sept. 25, 1964. Reichelderfer's run - aided by key blocks from Dick Gerhold, Larry Winters, and Steve Montgomery - helped the Cruisers defeat Grove City 18-13.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Sept. 14, 2009
The Yellow Jacket War (Sept. 9, 2009)
Each September yellow jackets try to invade my home. Usually they set up a nest in one of my porch roofs or a window or an eave. But this year the little stingers chose a ground fortress at an out of the way place near the foundation of my front porch.
In past years I sprayed the nests to kill the yellow jackets to keep them from working their way into my house. But this year I thought, since they were in the ground and did not seem like a threat to invade my indoor sanctuary, I was going to leave them alone. I've been stung before by yellow jackets over the years, but, hey, give peace a chance and all that.
Then recently, in an unprovoked act of aggression, these yellow jackets attacked me as I walked up my front steps. Who knows why. Maybe they harbored resentment towards me because of my recent alliance with the squirrels who live in the tree in the front yard. Maybe they're just belligerent bugs.
The buzzing bombers came for me without warning. They went for my head and arms as I tried to enter my front door. Luckily I fought them off and avoided being stung. But that was it. Peaceful co-existence, detente, or whatever you want to call it, was over. As Bugs Bunny once said after he was attacked without reason, "Of course you know, this means war."
"I was willing to leave you alone," I told the yellow jackets. "But you've asked for your annihilation."
On came the chemical warfare. I sprayed an entire can of bug poison down the yellow jacket fortress hole. Then I covered it with dirt and put two bricks on top of the hole.
I walked away. Thinking the battle was done after entombing my adversaries in their poisoned lair.
No, the next day the surviving yellow jackets had dug a new hole beside the bricks and were back at their bugging business.
My three squirrel buddies stood a safe distance away in the front yard watching as I confronted the yellow jackets again.
"My mammal allies the squirrels are with me, not you," I told the yellow jackets as I unleashed a second bug spray assault emptying another can down the nest hole.
The next morning only a couple of yellow jackets hovered above the hole. I don't know if the battle is over. But, if the yellow jackets rally, I have another plan.
I'm going to go Old Testament on them and unleash...the flood.
I'll put a hose down the hole and wash away my tormentors.
If that fails, I'll tap into another ancient force and go Ice Age on them and stuff the hole full of ice cubes.
Don't tread on me.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Sept. 9, 2009
More on Pelotonia and Groveport (Sept. 8, 2009)
Groveport Village Administrator Steve Morris said the village received an e-mail from one of the cyclists who participated in the Pelotonia bicycle tour, which passed through Groveport in late August.
According to Morris, the cyclist stated, "...the support from the people of Groveport was awesome and very motivational for the cyclists as well as very uplifting and appreciated."
Morris said the rider further stated that Groveport was by far the most supportive village on the 180 mile bicycle tour.
Pelotonia passed through Groveport via Walnut Street and Main Street. A small crowd of residents lined those streets and encouraged the riders as they whooshed by on their bikes.
I heard spectators call out, "Thank you" (acknowledging the riders' efforts to raise money to help fight cancer) and "Welcome to Groveport!"
Many of the cyclists smiled broadly at the welcome they received in town. They waved and thanked the crowd. The support seemed to revitalize some of the riders who were tiring at the 25 mile mark of the tour in Groveport as it appeared they absorbed energy from the spectators, enabling them to put more push to the pedals.
The cyclists came in all shapes, sizes, and ages. One had a pink mohawk on top her helmet. Others had names of people fighting cancer written on their arms.
Standing along the curb watching the waves of cyclists pour through town was inspiring.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Sept. 8, 2009
Groveport's parks (Sept. 2, 2009)
One of the nicest aspects of living in the small town of Groveport is the abundant green space that not only surrounds the town, but is also woven into the village itself through its extensive parks system.
There's something for everyone ranging from the traditional park setting of the town's oldest park, the tree filled Blacklick Park located at the end of Blacklick Street, to the sprawling Groveport Park with its wide open spaces, modern rec center and aquatic park, and Ohio and Erie Canal Lock 22.
Heritage Park offers a glimpse of the past with its log house and nearby Groveport Cemetery, as well as fine fishing at Palm Pond. Degenhart Park has modern tennis courts, picnic areas, and a playground nestled in a quiet neighborhood. Cruiser Park is home to soccer fields.
Additionally the town's bike path connects to nearby Three Creeks Metro Park.
These are your parks and you have an opportunity to offer your input on their future usage at a community meeting regarding the village of Groveport's Park System Master Plan on Sept. 16 at 7 p.m. at the Groveport Municipal Building, 655 Blacklick St. The public is invited to review the plan and make suggestions. For information call Parks and Recreation Director Kyle Lund at 836-1000 ext. 223.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Sept. 2, 2009
Pelotonia (August 31, 2009)
The Pelotonia bicycle tour wheeled its way down Groveport's Main Street the morning of Aug. 29.
More than 2,200 cyclists pedaled through town led by international cycling champion Lance Armstrong. The riders chose to ride routes of 25, 50, 100, or 180 miles extending to Athens, Ohio, to raise funds for cancer research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.
It was inspiring to see so many people give of themselves by hopping on their bicycles to help others.
I was particularly impressed with an old friend of mine, Marie Gibbons of Canal Winchester, who tackled the event. While cruising on my bicycle this summer, I came across Marie riding her bike many times as she trained for the event on the Three Creeks bike path. She put in a lot of effort and I am so very proud of her. She has a big heart and a lot of energy.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, August 31, 2009
The "G" (August 27, 2009)
I may be dating myself with this, but does anyone else out there miss the old Groveport "G" logo that used to appear on the Groveport Madison Cruisers' football helmets? It was a black and white "G" on a red helmet. (The "G" logo was shaped like the Green Bay Packer and Georgia Bulldog "G" logo.)
I liked the "G." It was distinctive and easily recognizable. It's been gone as an emblem for a few years now. I've talked to several fellow alumni who'd like to see the old logo brought back into use.
When the "G" emblem was first used in the late 1960s, it was the first time a logo had ever appeared on a Cruiser football helmet. The "G" was a mainstay through the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.
For most of the 1960s the players wore a logo-less black helmet with a combination of white-red-white stripes down the middle. For most of the 1950s the team wore emblem-less black helmets with a single white stripe down the middle. There was also a period when the helmets were red with a crossed white stripe.
On display in the Groveport Heritage Museum there is a leather helmet dyed red worn in the 1930s and 1920s. Earlier, the helmets were unadorned plain leather.
If the "G" is gone for good for whatever reason, then I'd like to see the Cruiser logo that was used last year made bigger so it is more easily seen.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, August 27, 2009
Celebrating CW football history (August 25, 2009)
Canal Winchester High School is celebrating its 100th anniversary of high school football at its varsity home opener against Bexley on Aug. 28 at 7:30 p.m.
With that in mind, I'd like to recommend the book "A History of Canal Winchester Football 1909-2009," by R. Scott Stiteler for all of you who are football fans and also interested in area history.
The book includes a thorough run down of Canal Winchester's football results and schedules down through the years, as well as team photos. Plus, it has a feature I like, a listing of Canal Winchester's all time won-loss record against opposing schools. It's fun to see how things stack up head to head between schools and also to see have some rivalries have come and gone over the years.
For instance, neighbors Groveport and Canal Winchester faced each other on the gridiron for many years until the early 1960s when Groveport Madison grew to be a much larger school district. (As memory serves me, I think the Cruisers lead the all time series 15-10.)
Congratulations Indians on your 100th year and may you have many more good times and victories.
For information on the celebration and Stiteler's book, visit the Touchdown Club Web site at canalwinchesterfootball.com.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, August 25, 2009
Paws in the Pool (August 20, 2009)
What better way to end the summer than to watch dogs of all sizes frolic in the Groveport Aquatic Center?
At the end of the season before the pool is drained, the village of Groveport opens up the pool to our furry friends. I've attended the event the past two years (and I don't even own a dog) just to watch the dogs enjoying themselves. It's a sight to behold. I've never seen so many happy pooches in one place before.
The Groveport Aquatic Center in Groveport Park will hold its fifth annual "Paws in the Pool" where dogs can swim, run, jump, bark, and play in the pool with other dogs on Sept. 10 with dogs under 40 pounds from 6-7 p.m. and dogs over 40 pounds from 7-8 p.m. Cost is $2 per dog. For information call 836-1000 or visit www.groveportrec.com
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, August 20, 2009
Woodstock redux (August 17, 2009)
This past weekend was the 40th anniversary of the legendary Woodstock music and art festival in upstate New York.
I wasn't one of the half a million people who attended the muddy happening. I was only 14-years-old in 1969 and for me at that time New York may as well have been on the other side of the moon.
But after watching and listening to some retrospectives on Woodstock over the past few days, and since I have no Woodstock memories, I decided to list (in no particular order) my own personal top rock and roll memories:
•At age 9, in 1964 my mom bringing home the first Beatles album and then the two of us watching the mop tops on The Ed Sullivan Show while the rest of our family was either bored with the whole thing or questioning our sanity.
•Watching "Where the Action Is" on summer afternoons in the mid-1960s just so I could see Paul Revere and the Raiders and revel in their garage rock sound.
•Being at the old Groveport swimming pool in 1965 and hearing the Kinks' "You Really Got Me" blasting out over the tinny radio loudspeaker mounted on the top of the pool building. There I was, age 10, at the pool, and though detached from them by age, surrounded by the beautiful high school girls I adored as well as the guys who were my high school athletic heroes while the Kinks roared out their energy. Bliss.
•Standing outside the fence of the Torch-A-Go-Go in Groveport in the mid-1960s listening to the live bands and wishing, wishing, WISHING I was old enough to get in. Sadly, by the time I was, the Torch-A-Go-Go had flamed out.
•Buying The Who's album, "Who's Next," at J.C. Penney's in 1971 and taking it home and playing it over and over all day.
•Attending my all time favorite live performance (some time in the early 1980s maybe??) - a double bill of central Ohio's own punk-rock-folk band Great Plains and the swampy, scarey Gun Club at some campus dive. Pure rock n'roll because it was dangerous, steamy, and fun at the same time.
•Seeing Bob Dylan live twice - once in Cooper Stadium and the other time at the State Fair.
•Seeing Neil Young perform a few years ago at Polaris with a dear friend of mine (a friendship I later ruined and lost because of my stupidity). But on that night, we sat on the dewey grass, both hoping he'd play "Powderfinger." Then he did!
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, August 17, 2009
Comment from Sher:
Read your blog ...I gave me a little chuckle (in a good way)...I am not sure if I have favorite rock-n-roll memories...but here are a few that come to mind first...
Going to see RATT and Poison downtown with a few friends???? from Sun TV -- not being able to hear a thing when I left, getting lost in downtown trying to find a bathroom -I remember having to go to the bathroom more than anything else.
Playing Guns and Roses over and over during summer of my sophomore year???? in college...We would dance on the furniture and pretend to be in the band .... (Too bad we didn't come up with the idea Rock Band or we would be millionaires by now)
Going to see U2's Joshua Tree tour (in Cleveland) and singing every song they played...admiring the Edge and wondering how Bono could still perform with the arm he broke just a few days earlier in Pennsylvania.
State Fair (August 13, 2009)
I realized today that it's been close to 20 years since I attended the Ohio State Fair.
When I was a kid, my family went to the fair often. I liked everything about it then. With the food, rides, animals, midway, music, and people the place screamed sensory overload.
As a young adult I also went to the fair regularly because it seemed like the thing to do in late summer.
My all time favorite memory of the State Fair is of the "Bobo," an obnoxious clown who sat above a dunk tank and said entertainingly awful things to people to goad them into buying a chance to toss a ball at a target trigger to dunk him. The Bobo always won because, even if he was soaked from being dunked, he climbed back to his seat and said, "High and dry," and proceeded to berate people some more. I loved it. I never tired of watching and listening to this painted face happy crank.
I think the last time I was at the State Fair was in the early 1990s. I remember seeing Bob Dylan perform in the Celeste Center.
But since then I haven't trod upon the fair's turf (or pavement). I don't think it was a conscious decision to stop going. It's like the thought of the State Fair just faded away from my list of things to do.
Maybe I just take it for granted that it's always there if I want to go, or maybe I got bored with it.
The magic's just gone.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, August 13, 2009
Ironweed (August 11, 2009)
Its bright purple bloom atop a tall, sturdy stem stands out amidst the fading greens and yellows of late summer.
It is ironweed, one of my favorite wildflowers. Every August I watch for its purple crown rising in the meadows of Three Creeks Metro Park. This year I saw my first one there on Aug. 1. Right on time.
In the following days I saw clusters of ironweed, as well as some solitary shoots, popping up throughout the fields. It makes me smile when I see it every year.
Ironweed can grow 48 to 72 inches in height and can be found in the Midwest and North, as well as some places in the South. It's said its tough stem can be used to make kites.
I first became aware of the flower, not in the wild, but its symbolic role in the pages of the book, "Ironweed," by William Kennedy. The Pulitzer Prize winning story tells the tale of a man, a self-professed Depression era "bum" who hits rock bottom, but somehow discovers his own inner strength and gains perspective on his life. It's a great book and ever since I read it so many years ago I watch for the ironweed to bloom.
I appreciate the beauty of ironweed's late summer show as well as it's role as nature's timekeeper foretelling the coming of autumn. But I also embrace that ironweed strives to maintain its strength and glorious bloom as it faces the inevitable bite of the coming winter.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, August 11, 2009
Rivalry on hold (August 5, 2009)
With the failure of the South-Western school levy on Aug. 4 and the accompanying loss of that district's extracurricular activities, a long time sports rivalry between Groveport and Grove City high schools will be put on hold.
The Cruisers and Greyhounds have battled it out on the ballfields and courts for about 100 years as members of the Franklin County League, Mid-Eight League, and, more recently, the Ohio Capital Conference.
According to the Groveport Madison Athletic Department, Grove City's Sept. 25 spot on the Cruiser varsity football schedule will be filled by Dublin Coffman. It will be a home game for the Cruisers.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, August 5, 2009
Groveport School placed on National Register (August 4, 2009)
The National Park Service listed Groveport School - consisting of Groveport Elementary and Groveport Madison Junior High School - on the National Register of Historic Places as of July 24.
The elementary was built in 1923 to originally house all 12 grades. The junior high was built as a high school in stages in the 1950s. The two schools were submitted for consideration as one building as they are connected by an overhead walkway.
The effort to place the historic school on the National Register was led by the Groveport Heritage and Preservation Society in conjunction with the Groveport Madison Local School District. The entities worked with history consultant Kathy Mast Kane and her staff to prepare the information that garnered the designation.
More to come on this later...
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, August 4, 2009
Techno update (Aug. 3, 2009)
Well, it's been a couple of weeks since I leaped into the 21st century and obtained cable TV and high speed Internet.
The first few days were rocky because, as usual with so called technological enhancements, things did not work well. The e-mail refused to open and the Internet connection was slow, among other things. But after lots of phone calls to tech support and finding myself going mad, the bugs finally got worked out and the new systems are functioning as they should.
It's nice to finally be able to go to Web sites as well as open files that my old dial up Internet connection balked at.
The biggest revelation is the cable television. So many channels, it's sensory overload at times. But it's nice to have more choices than the old handful of stations I used to get with my rabbit ear antenna.
The cable paid for itself the other night when, while channel surfing, I stumbled upon a showing of The Who's legendary 1970 Isle of Wight concert. That was nearly two hours of noisy bliss.
I find myself watching mostly movies and the music channels on cable. I finally saw the acclaimed film, "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," but after it was over I wondered what all the fuss was about. The movie seemed a little too pleased with itself.
I've been disappointed with the History Channel. What's with the endless showings of "Ice Road Truckers?" I'm not seeing much in the way of good history documentaries there. PBS still has them beat.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, Aug. 3, 2009
Brown Dog Day (July 29 2009)
It's time again to celebrate our furry, and not so furry, friends as Groveport holds its annual "Brown Dog Day" neighborhood pet festival on Aug. 15 at 10 a.m. in Degenhart Park, located at the end of Lesleh Avenue.
Brown Dog Day is a free celebration of the common pet and their owners. The "brown dog" of its title is an all encompassing term meant to include all pets. Anyone is invited, with or without a pet. Any animal can participate (in the past a tree frog, llama, cow, and "imaginary" pets have attended) as long as they are social and get along with other animals. Pets should also be leashed.
The event includes contests in these categories: longest tail, shortest tail, best trick, pet owner look-alike, longest legs, most unusual pet, longest ears, best costume contest, most colorful and best treat catcher. Also an obstacle course will be set-up.
Groveport's Hamler and Hollinger families originated Brown Dog Day in the mid-1990s before later turning it over to the village to handle.
"The philosophy behind Brown Dog Day is that none of us is royalty," said Margie Hamler. "It was a chance for us to come together and celebrate who we are, our common experience, and to celebrate pets of all kinds."
At the first Brown Dog Day, Terry Hollinger made note of this philosophy in his original Brown Dog Day Proclamation:
"This is the Brown Dog Summer. A summer in which to remember the working men and women brought us where we are.
A Brown Dog, a pet without pedigree, loyal, hard working, friendly, the kind of pet or person who is there when times are hard and nights are cold. The coldest nights of all are three dog nights. A night so cold a person must wrap three dogs around them just to stay alive. Anyone whoever survived the cold of a three dog night knows that two of those dogs were Brown Dogs.
Our lives have many three dog nights. Some of money. Some of pain. Some of loss. Some, most dire of all, of the soul. But beside us in each and every one of these moments of darkness there has been that friend who brought us the warm and common touch; who pointed us in a safe direction and brought us home again.
In this great homeland of ours, those men and women of the Brown Dog, no pedigree, blue collar, upbringing have been the people who have turned back depression and war; held the center when left and right struck at each other through the heart of America; and pulled their families together when the world was going to hell around them.
This summer we are to remember and honor our roots. Say thank you to our mothers, fathers, and elders who are still with us to receive our thanks. We are to hold up the memories of those who have gone before. We are to treat the histories of our families and communities with the dignity they deserve. We are to raise up our family histories so that our sons and daughters can know and appreciate who they are. Know the struggles that have shaped them good and bad.
We are to celebrate not just one Labor Day, but a summer of days honoring our labors. This is to be a summer of gathering strength for the labors yet to come. A time of casting away the burdens of yesterday. A season in which to forgive and let go. A moment of cutting away the clutter of our lives and opening up a clear vision of the next step in our journey.
This is a Brown Dog summer.
Our ancestors were not kings and queens stepping daintily on to the shores of a conquered nation. Our ancestors came out of the fields and off the streets of the world, stepped into a wilderness, and built what had never existed before... "a nation of the people, by the people, for the people."
Take a deep breath Brown Doggers. When all the shouting and celebrating is over we need to be ready to build an even greater structure on that foundation. It's called tomorrow."
For information on Brown Dog Day, call 836-3333. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, July 29, 2009
Alert police work (July 27, 2009)
I wanted to make note of a couple examples of alert police work performed recently by two Groveport Police officers - Officer Carrie Clites and Officer Javier Herrera.
Clites recently apprehended two individuals suspected of allegedly robbing the Waffle House in Groveport.
According to the Groveport Police Department, Clites, while on patrol, noticed a vehicle allegedly speeding out of the restaurant's parking lot and saw a restaurant employee running out after the car, waving her arms and pointing at the departing vehicle. Clites quickly pulled the car over and seconds later heard a call the restaurant had just been robbed. The call included a description of the car she had just stopped. With help from the Madison Township police and a Franklin County deputy, the occupants of the car were apprehended without incident.
"Officer Clites did a fantastic job," said Groveport Police Lt. Kurt Blevins.
While on patrol on Bixby Road, Herrera noticed a car turn its lights off as it drove into a new housing development under construction within Obetz' jurisdiction along Groveport Road. Herrera contacted the Obetz Police and he assisted them in the apprehension of a suspect who had allegedly broken into an unoccupied new build home and allegedly stole copper wire and pipes.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, July 27, 2009
Holding court (July 22, 2009)
My old Cruiser basketball coach Bob Miller, who now coaches at Thomas Worthington High School, always told us, "Basketball players are made in the summer."
My teammates and I took that advice to heart and spent many summer hours of our teenage years outdoors on hot asphalt courts working on our game.
The main place I and my cronies played were the "tennis courts" behind Groveport Elementary. We called it that because it was two tennis courts with a sagging chain link tennis "net" down the middle. On either side of the bent tennis net were two full basketball courts. It was rare to ever see anyone playing tennis there (when we did we nicknamed them the "tennis buffs").
On most summer evenings it was a rag tag assortment of basketball players who appeared on the courts - teenagers, older guys with skills still intact, town guys, roughnecks wearing work boots or street shoes, and the occasional stranger we had to size up. We all meshed together and had great games. Sure we argued now and then, but it was all soon forgotten and the next day we were all back there.
I visited the old courts last Sunday. Time has changed the place as it is now a parking lot. Two of the battered baskets and backboards are still there, but the others are gone. The old fencing is long gone. The towering tree that loomed over the court and gave us shade was cut down. One always hates to see the signs of one's youth disappear. I once knew every crack in the asphalt there. I had come to the spot, but the place I knew had faded away. We can look back, but not return.
But nearby was a newer, smaller basketball court with a new generation of players working their magic.
The torch has been passed.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, July 22, 2009
Signs (July 20, 2009)
Our modern times are unsettling. So much is out of our control and lots of troublesome things are happening.
Yet, a simple thing I often see when I'm out and about gives me hope.
It's the brightly colored, hand lettered signs, often adorned with balloons, stuck on poles or on stakes in the ground at neighborhood intersections. The signs are directional for invited guests and usually announce things like someone's baby or wedding shower; or a graduation celebration; or a kid's birthday party.
The bright signs are a defiant gesture in the gloom indicating that, no matter what the world throws at us, we will continue to care for those who are close to us and celebrate their lives.
These gatherings, though seemingly small in the bigger scheme of things, are signposts of what is really important in our lives - each other.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, July 20, 2009
Mapped out (July 16, 2009)
I like maps. I enjoy pouring over them to see where things are.
Old maps are fun because you can get a vision of how things once were. I especially like the 19th century maps where the property owners' names were handwritten onto the map and even the shapes of the buildings on a lot were drawn in.
New maps are enlightening in that you can see how things have changed, such as where towns have annexed or new roads appear.
I like the feel of an atlas or a paper map in my hand, even the multi-folded ones. (I take a weird pride in being able to easily refold these road maps.)
So, with this in mind, I'm happy to report that Franklin County Engineer Dean Ringle announced that the 2009 editions of the Franklin County road map and atlas will be available starting July 20.
According to Ringle, the new, five color, 43 by 37 inch map shows 11,928 public streets and 1,200 points of interest. The atlas is a 100 page book that also contains a street locator index including 4,100 private roads.
The county road map is available free of charge and the atlas can be purchased for $1 through the Franklin County Engineer's office and at various county, municipal, township, and state facilities, as well as the Franklin County Fair.
Pick one up and explore!
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, July 16, 2009
21st Century Man (July 14, 2009)
The Kinks have a song from back in the day called "20th Century Man" where singer Ray Davies decries the technological and artistic "progress" of that now bygone century.
I always liked the song and identified with parts of it. Those of you who know me know that when it comes to the latest technology I'm really lazy about learning of its magic.
That's why what I'm about to tell you may shock you! Yes, shock you!
I'm abandoning my home dial up Internet connection for a high speed version AND I'm giving up on that wretched digital television conversion box and obtaining cable.
Whew. Makes me tired just to think of these momentous changes in my drab little world.
Oh, how I loathe the digital conversion box that converts television pictures into pixels or, more frequently, a blank screen.
Yes, I'm on to the promised land of cable with its many channels of delight and dreck.
As for the high speed Internet...I will soon be actually able to open files that dial up thwarted me on for years. Imagine that.
I'm nearly a 21st Century Man. But let's not get crazy.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, July 14, 2009
Sunday afternoon (July 13, 2009)
Yesterday featured one of those warm, lazy, slow paced late Sunday afternoons that we long for when we're mired in bleak, cold January.
An afternoon with little to do. How great is that? I went for a walk around town and noticed the quiet and the lengthening shadows created by a yellow sun angling down to the horizon.
Even Main Street, which in the past couple of years seems busy with traffic all day long, was empty of cars. The road was so silent and void of traffic that when I closed my eyes I time traveled to the past in my mind. I could almost hear the faint sound of the clomping of horse hoofs as the strong animal pulled a lone carriage, creaking along as its wheels rutted in the once dirt Main Street.
I thought about what a similar summer Sunday would be like 100 years ago. Though Sunday was always a traditional "day of rest," in those days chores still had to be done. One couldn't put off feeding the animals most everyone in town kept a few of - horses, chickens, pigs, etc. Gardens needed tended, water from the well collected, and so on.
After church in the morning, people might have spent part of the afternoon visiting with others around town or maybe wandered down to the old bandstand at Main and Front streets to hear the town band.
Or, maybe those folks from 1909 went for a leisurely walk like I did and, in turn, wondered how people in 1809 spent a lazy, warm, slow paced, late summer Sunday afternoon.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, July 13, 2009
Officers prevent suicide (July 8, 2009)
Groveport Police, Madison Township Police, Obetz Police officers and Franklin County deputies prevented a man from committing suicide on July 3 in Groveport.
Responding to a call, Groveport Police officers Josh Gilbert and Ryan Ripson arrived and observed a man sitting in front of his home with a rifle under his chin with his toe on the trigger while talking to his wife. The officers asked the woman was asked to step away and ordered the man to put down the gun. The man did not comply and stated he was going to shoot himself.
Madison Township Police Officer Vic Boyd entered the house unseen, came through the front door, got behind the man and then disarmed him. The man was shot with a taser and taken into custody. He was arrested on charges of inducing panic, using weapon while intoxicated, and disorderly conduct.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, July 8, 2009
On parade (July 6, 2009)
Another Independence Day in Groveport has come and gone.
After a fine cookout at my parents' house I wandered down to see the parade. The village has had a Fourth of July parade and fireworks as long as I can remember.
The parade really hasn't changed much in my lifetime. There are fewer bands and floats than in the old days, and I miss the quaintly unusual harmonica band that used to appear, but otherwise it's similar to the parades I used to watch march by from my boyhood Main Street home.
The liveliest entries in this year's parade seemed to be the church "floats." They were smiling, singing, and dancing as they rolled by.
I noted the local election campaign season is already underway as a couple of Madison Township trustee candidates and a Groveport Madison school board candidate walked the route. One of the township trustee candidates even had a plane flying overhead with a banner seeking votes.
It was good to see the traditional annual appearance of the Groveport Madison High School Marching Cruisers in the parade dressed in their "summer" uniforms of white and black. It stirred memories of watching my sister march and play in the parade when she was a Marching Cruiser in the 1960s.
The crowd along the Main Street parade route seemed bigger than ever this year. In some places people were lined up three deep from the curb.
After the parade people wandered back to their homes for cookouts and such until the fireworks that evening. As dusk settled in a light, but steady, rain trickled from the sky. But the dampness didn't deter the crowds nor the fireworks .
I sat in my beat up old lawn chair on Wirt Road with some of my oldest, dearest friends and watched as the skyrockets defiantly blasted into the wet atmosphere. My friends had all remembered to bring umbrellas, but I didn't. As I sat there I noticed the rain had stopped falling on me. I looked up and saw that one of my friends had silently positioned her umbrella to also help cover me. Friendship wordlessly performs, understands, and acknowledges such acts.
It was a good day.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, July 6, 2009
Summer review (July 1, 2009)
The Fourth of July always seems to me to be a good time to take stock of the summer.
•I don't follow baseball as much as I used to (I'm still disillusioned by the departure of my beloved Columbus Jets in the early 1970s), but I do occasionally check out the standings. While the Reds are holding their own, the Indians and Clippers are dismal, despite their fancy stadiums.
•The black-eyed susans in my yard seem brighter and bolder compared to past years.
•I'm seeing more lightning bugs this year, which I like, and I'm wondering if more of them are surviving because the village hasn't been spraying for mosquitoes as in past years. Also, I heard the 90 day cicada early this year, on June 27, which portends frost in late September. Shudder.
•I've been bicycling a lot on the Three Creeks and Groveport bike paths. Lately I like to go early in the morning just when the sun is peeking up over the corn in Foor's field. Some mornings there's a slight, misty fog in Three Creeks Park wallowing in low, wet areas that gives the morning light a mystical quality. The trees, bushes, and grass have a deep, rich summer green color that settles in after the freshness of spring departs. This full green dulls by August and a yellowish quality begins to creep in to the hue.
•This summer seems quieter, like everyone and everything are collectively catching their breaths.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, July 1, 2009
Stairway to Nowhere (June 29, 2009)
I grew up on Main Street in Groveport and in my old neighborhood there is a mystery I've always wondered about.
On the south side of Main Street, about midway between West Street and Frank Alley, exists a concrete "Stairway to Nowhere."
These sturdy steps are still doing their job, but they've lost their purpose as they now lead up the small hill to an open lot. I've talked to many people over the years about what kind of building, now gone, these steps could have led to, but no one remembers ever seeing any building there. Was it a house? A business? When was it there? When did it disappear? Did it burn down? Did it fall apart and then was torn down? Did space aliens beam it up?
Most likely it was a house that sat on this now grassy space, but no one I've spoken to has a memory of it. It's a mystery.
Does anyone out there have an answer, or even a photograph, of what was once atop those steps? Let me know.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, June 29, 2009
Sky show (June 26, 2009)
As I was driving in to work this morning there was a magnificent rainbow arching in the western sky. It was distinct and bright and I could see the nearly full arch sweeping the sky from end to end. The shiny rainbow seemed to be leaping over the slate gray clouds.
I never expect to see a rainbow so it is always a pleasant surprise when one appears to grace the day.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, June 26, 2009
Movie blahs (June 24, 2009)
I can't remember the last time I was in a movie theater to see a film.
I used to go to see movies all the time, but somewhere along the way my desire to do so faded.
This waning interest stems from a few factors:
•There are so many bad movies - movies based on products that are just one big commercial, remakes that often seem far inferior to the originals, endless "franchised" films with sequel after sequel retreading the same old celluloid, and formula films where the same actors go through the motions.
•The cost. Going to the theater has become so expensive. Not even matinees are affordable. The guilty pleasure of concessions ceases to be a pleasure when they empty your wallet.
•People in the audience talking during the film. I think people are so used to watching movies at home where they can talk and move around that they bring that behavior with them to the theater.
•Multi-plexes. These cinemas have multiple screens that are small so the film folks can cram more viewers into the theater. The small screen can rob a film of its majesty and magic. If I have to watch a film on a small screen, I may as well watch it on my home television.
•Coming attractions. This used to be a fun warm up to a film. But now there are so many of them it makes one antsy for the feature to start. Plus the coming attractions are laced with commercials.
It all sends me reelin'.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, June 24, 2009
Re-enacting a calling (June 22, 2009)
Members of the 76th Ohio, a regiment of Civil War Union Army re-enactors, set up camp in Groveport's Heritage Park on June 19-20. The encampment helps visitors get a feel for what camp life was like for a Civil War soldier.
I went to the encampment to take photos for the Southeast Messenger and met Rick Hahn, of Canal Winchester, who said he enjoys re-enacting the life of a Civil War soldier.
"I like the commitment, dedication and the educational aspects of it. We do it because we love it. We (re-enactors) are just like family. I feel like I was born 150 years too late," he said.
Currently there are 20 re-enactors in the 76th. The actual Civil War era 76th Ohio formed in Licking County at the start of the war. Its soldiers marched 12,000 miles during the four years of the war and fought in 49 battles including Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Corinth, Vicksburg, Chattanooga, Atlanta, and Sherman's "March to the Sea."
According to re-enactor Phil Jenkins, of the 1,200 men on the Civil War era's 76th's roster, only 300 were mustered out at the end of the war.
A member of the original 76th Ohio, David Claffey, is buried in the Groveport Cemetery.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, June 22, 2009
OCC shuffle (June 19, 2009)
The uncertainty of whether or not the four South-Western School District high schools (Grove City, Westland, Franklin Heights, and Central Crossing) will be able to compete in high school athletics in 2009-10 has left the 31 team Ohio Capital Conference's (OCC) scheduling in a state of flux.
South-Western and the OCC both must await the results of South-Western's Aug. 4 levy vote to see if the extracurriculars will be reinstated.
I've felt for years the OCC is just plain too big with too many teams. Granted, the league has taken steps recently to re-establish traditional rivalries and geographic considerations. But the OCC's size seems to be a problem when something like the South-Western snag arises and affects so many other teams.
The history of high school athletic leagues in Central Ohio is interesting. Early on we had the Franklin County League - which was kind of like the OCC in that it had all the suburban and rural county schools - and the City League. Following World War II it all started to break up and smaller leagues formed - the Mid-Eight League, the Metro League, the Central Ohio League, and others which in turn were later absorbed into the OCC.
I liked the small leagues. They promoted rivalries, made geographic sense (except for the Central Ohio League which had teams as far flung as Marietta, Zanesville, Newark, Lancaster, Upper Arlington, and I think Chillicothe). Plus the smaller leagues made good chatter as people could compare their relative strengths and have a certain local pride in their group.
Bigger isn't always better.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, June 19, 2009
Me and the wheel (June 15, 2009)
It's recognized among those who appreciate technological achievement and innovation that the invention of the wheel was one of mankind's best and most useful ideas.
I, too, admire the wheel and receive many benefits from its uses. But the wheel's relationship with me also has a dark side.
I once had a car in the 1970s that in the span of six years had 17 flat tires. Four of those occurred on I-70 when construction debris fell from a truck I was following and punctured all the tires at once. The remaining 13 were from nails, bad tire construction, a weird looking wire, and other mysterious causes.
My bicycle also has fallen prey to the flat tire demons, especially recently as I've had three flats in the past year due to nature's ultimate plant weapon - the sturdy thorn.
Yesterday my lawn mower lost a wheel. It just fell off. This is the second wheel to break off from the mower in a year. In both cases the wheels (one front and one rear) just broke away from mower's metal body leaving a gaping, jagged whole.
It's all a little deflating, but, hey, as John Fogerty sang, "big wheel keeps on turnin'..."
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, June 15, 2009
Comment from Fred:
I hope the wheel gods accept your life-long sacrifices and grant you peace. This installment made my day.
Ohio's flag (June 12, 2009)
With Flag Day coming up on June 14 I wanted to share some information about the state flag of Ohio.
I may be biased, but I think it is most attractive of all the 50 state flags. I like its simple, straightforward design pattern. Also, its swallow tail, pennant-like design (called a "burgee") makes it unique among the 49 other rectangular state flags.
Ohio's flag has three red and two white stripes and a blue triangular field containing 17 white stars configured around a red disc superimposed on a white "O."
According to John Eisenmann, the man who created the design for the Ohio flag, "The triangles formed by the main lines of the flag represent the hills and valleys as typified in the State Seal, and the stripes the roads and waterways. The stars, indicating the 13 original states of the Union, are grouped about the circle which represents the Northwest Territory; and that Ohio was the 17th state admitted to the Union is shown by adding four more stars. The white circle with its red center, not only represents the initial letter of Ohio, but is suggestive of its being the Buckeye State."
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, June 12, 2009
Media circus (June 8, 2009)
I could hear the "thump-thump" of more than one helicopter circling over Groveport on June 4.
This isn't unusual with Rickenbacker Airport nearby, but then my phone rang and a friend of mine told me, "There's a bomb scare at Motts Museum!"
Being a news guy, I hopped into my car and drove the few blocks from my house to the Motts Military Museum where I participated in my first media circus.
A woman recently donated a 155mm artillery shell, which was given to her late husband as a gift honoring his service during World War II, to the Motts Military Museum. The shell was marked "inert" and someone had drilled holes into it, but Warren Motts, director of the museum, wasn't taking any chances and called the Columbus Bomb Squad to check it out.
Motts called the fire department to check out the shell, but he didn't expect the flurry of activity that happened next. Fire and police officials quickly shut down Old Hamilton Road and evacuated a wide area around the museum. Television news crews swept in and people in the village of Groveport could hear the television news helicopters swarming overhead.
Television news trucks set up with all their antennas, cameras, and other gear in a nearby parking lot. The technical tv people huddled with the tv reporters.
I pulled in and walked over to the edge of the lot and looked over at the museum across the open field. It all looked rather calm over there and belied the urgency of the copters and several news crews and print reporters (myself and one from the daily paper) on hand.
Turns out the bomb squad X-rayed the shell and determined it was not explosive, which was good news for everyone.
After a fire captain briefed all of us, the tv folks packed up and left. The copters fluttered away. Without pictures there wasn't much of a story for them.
But myself and the other print journalist stuck around and talked to the fire captain a little longer. Later I tracked down Warren Motts and he added some information.
It all pointed up a basic difference between print and electronic journalism. The tv journalists need the visual for the story while the print journalists can probe for more depth for a story.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, June 8, 2009
Summer job (June 2, 2009)
The first job I ever had, like many young lads, was mowing yards. The first $5 I ever earned was from cutting grass and I made it my first deposit in the bank when I was 10-years-old in the mid-1960s.
I cut yards from age 10 through the summer before I was a senior in high school. I took care of about 10 yards per summer, mostly for little old ladies around Groveport. Depending on the size of the yard, I earned between $2 to $5 per yard.
I didn't make a lot of money, but it was all I needed at the time. I also liked the freedom of movement the job offered, the independence, and being able to be outside on a sunny summer day working in the green world of trees, flowers, bushes, and grass.
Sometimes it was so hot it felt like I could spontaneously combust. I can tell you that Coca-Cola never tasted as good as when I would drink a cold bottle of it after finishing a yard. Once, I can remember sitting under a shade tree, work completed, t-shirt soaked with sweat, and grass clippings still clinging to me. Sitting there on that simmering July day, as the reverberations from the roar of the lawn mower subsided in my ears and knowing the classroom was still in far off September, the quiet pleasures of a small town summer afternoon took hold of me and I knew I was where I was supposed to be at that moment.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, June 2, 2009
Squirrel in a tube (June 1, 2009)
Okay, so the above headline isn't as menacing as the recent film, "Snakes on a Plane," but it was still hair raising for a certain bushy tailed mammal.
At my house I have five foot long, black, ribbed, plastic tubes that I connect to the end of my downspouts so rain water can better flow away from my house.
Now, not all of the water flows away after a rain. Some of it stays in the tube and the squirrels use it as their personal watering hole.
Before I cut my grass I always disconnect the tubes and move them so I can mow more easily and then I put them back. One day the tube seemed heavier than usual and I thought, "Boy, there must be more water in there for some reason."
As I tipped the tube, no water came out, but it got heavier toward the top. I tipped it again with the same result, except now I heard skittering echoing out of the tube. As I lifted the tube upright, out popped the furry face of a gray squirrel. For a moment we were eye to eye and then the squirrel freaked and sprang straight up out of the tube and into the air.
Once airbourne he realized he had nothing to grab onto. This was no Rocky the Flying Squirrel. He tumbled and twisted in the air and hit the soft grass running. He scrambled several feet away and onto my fence.
After catching his breath for a second, the squirrel turned to me and chattered and chittered, flicking his bushy tail swiftly. This, I assume, was the squirrel's way of cursing me out and flipping me off.
I smiled at my friend the squirrel, and told him, "Stop being a nut."
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, June 1, 2009
Odds and ends (May 28, 2009)
•Ever notice how long time residents of the Canal Winchester/Groveport area refer to Canal Winchester as "Winchester" while relatively newer residents call it "Canal"?
•Now that I'm picking up odd television stations with my digital converter box I've found RTN, the Retro Television Network, which shows old programs from waaaaayyy back. Watching these shows is a great cultural study. I've found that the makers of "Adam-12" and "Dragnet" are obsessed with, and appalled by, hippies. Nearly every show has some awkward encounter between the main characters and some generic hippy dude or chick. I've known many actual hippies and policemen in my life and none of them are like the ones peculiarly portrayed on these shows.
•Speaking of hippies, my all time favorite rock n' roll hippy is Grace Slick of the old Jefferson Airplane. A great singer, a real beauty, and an edgy attitude. As a teenager I completely fell for her when hearing the live recording of "Woodstock" when she spoke before her band began to play saying, "You've heard the supergroups now it's time for morning maniac music...It's a new dawn, yeah," and then the raw chords of "Volunteers" blasted out. Ah, teenage heaven.
•It's graduation time and I must say I'm a bit perplexed by how many high schools are holding their graduation ceremonies at big venues like the Schottenstein Center or Veterans' Memorial. I know it's a momentous day, but it seems grandiose to hold them in such places. What's wrong with using the facilities in their home communities? This may sound sentimental, but holding the ceremony at the alma mater would allow for some quiet reflection and memory as the grad takes one last look around the old school grounds before saying farewell.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, May 28, 2009
Music, art, history and more (May 26, 2009)
The Southeast area will be bustling with music, art, history, and more this summer and you can find out about it all with the Southeast Messenger.
Music and art will grace Canal Winchester's Stradley Park as well as Groveport's Heritage Park this summer:
The Center for Groveport Madison Human Needs will host summer concerts at 7 p.m. on Sundays at Groveport's Heritage Park on Wirt Road. For information visit www.gogroveport.com. The concert line up:
•June 7 - Americana Community Choir & All Sing
•June 28 - to be determined
•July 12 - SolaFide and Gospel Roadmaster's (Gospel)
•July 26 - Oblivion Fire (rock and roll)
•Aug. 9 - CityFolk, (acoustic band)
•Aug. 23 - Z Sharp Band (big band/swing)
The "Groveport Farmers' Market and More" operates every Thursday from June through August from 4:30-6:30 p.m. on the front lawn of Groveport Elementary, 715 Main St.
Come to the market on the third Thursday each month for Picnic in the Park from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Bring a blanket or lawn chair, pack a picnic dinner or purchase one from featured vendor OD on BBQ. Entertainment will include
•June 18 - Jayz Jamz vocal duo of Greg Dickson & Judy Booth who sing music from the 50s, 60s & 70s with some classic rock & roll and country.
•July 16 - Rosebriar Shakespeare Company performs one of their latest live theater productions.
•Aug. 20 - Roger & Ann Tedrow play folk, gospel and old country music on their hammer dulcimer and guitar.
For information contact Go Groveport at 836-7939 or online at www.gogroveport.com
Canal Winchester will kick off its free 2009 Music & Art in the Park concert series at Stradley Park Place, next to the Canal Winchester Municipal Building at 36 S. High St. Original artwork will be displayed by the Canal Winchester Art Guild. Upcoming concerts at 7 p.m.:
•June 19 - Hillbilly Deluxe, a country music band, along with a roaming magician, and a police, fire, military and construction vehicle display.
•July 17 - A cruise-in and '60s/'70s band, the Gas Pump Jockeys. Caricature artist, Sean Platt, will also be onsite offering free caricatures.
Visit www.canalwinchesterohio.gov for information.
The American Cancer Society's Relay for Life comes to the area with the Canal Winchester Relay For Life June 12-13 at Canal Winchester High School and the Groveport Relay for Life on June 26-27 at the Groveport Recreation Center.
History will also come alive as the Canal Winchester Area Historical Society will present an appearance by living history re-enactor Kenneth Hammontree who will portray noted Ohio historical figure Simon Kenton on June 2 at 7:30 p.m. at the Frances Steube Community Center, 22 S. Trine St., Canal Winchester. The public is invited to this free presentation. For information call Carol Note at (614) 837-0928
Groveport will host several Civil War activities and events in June including a month long exhibit of Civil War artifacts and memorabilia in the art gallery of Groveport Town Hall, 648 Main St. Call 836-3333 for information.
Information on all of these activities and events, and a whole lot more including farmers markets and nature activities going on "Around the Southeast" this summer, can be found on every week on the Southeast Messenger's Web site at www.columbusmessenger.com. Look under Southeast News for "Around Canal Winchester and Lithopolis" and "Around Groveport and Madison Township" to see what's happening. Don't miss the fun!~ - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, May 26, 2009
What I've learned attending government meetings (May 21, 2009)
I've been covering council, school board, and township trustee meetings for the Messenger since 1997. Here are some simple truths I've learned over that time:
•When someone begins to speak at a meeting and they start with, "I'll be brief," you can be sure they won't be.
•Beware the short agenda. It doesn't necessarily mean a short meeting because, hidden in those line items, are many time devouring potential tangents leading nowhere.
•When a government body holds a closed "executive" session it always seems wrong and long.
•Audience chairs in government meeting places are hard and uncomfortable (and sometimes stained with who knows what) while many government representatives sit in nice cushy chairs. Shouldn't it be the other way around since the citizens are the boss?
•Jargon and acronyms thrive. RFPs! RFQs! ODOT!
•Consultants who present things to government representatives like to use empty sounding words and phrases like "proactive," "win win," "paradigm," and "project delivery system."
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, May 21, 2009
Comment from Kristi F.:
Hey Rick! I like your blog.... It's nice, personal, reminiscent...yet informative. :)
It's an election year (May 19, 2009)
This year is a local election year when citizens will make decisions on Nov. 3 on who will fill community leadership positions on town councils, school boards, and township trustee boards.
This year there will be four council seats up for election on Groveport Village Council, Canal Winchester Village Council and Lithopolis Village Council. Additionally, three seats are up for election the Groveport Madison and Canal Winchester school boards as well as two trustee positions for Madison Township.
Local governments have the most direct impact on you as a citizen. If you want to make a difference, and are interested in local politics, consider becoming a candidate.
For information on candidate petitions and filing deadlines to get on the ballot, contact: the Franklin County Board of Elections at (614) 462-3100, or online at franklincountyohio.gov/boe; or the Fairfield County Board of Elections at (740) 687-7000 or online at www.fairfieldelections.com.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, May 19, 2009
Taking it to the streets (May 18, 2009)
One of my favorite things to do since I became editor of the Southeast Messenger more than 10 years ago is to take a few stacks of freshly printed editions of the current Southeast Messenger and deliver them around the circulation area on Friday afternoons.
I love small towns and these afternoons of walking the streets in Canal Winchester, Groveport, and Lithopolis distributing the newspaper are such a pleasure for me. I like seeing how people's yards and farm fields change with the seasons, what's new in the public places I visit, and visiting with folks I come across.
I've lived my entire life in Groveport and I know the communities of the Southeast area well. My family has deep roots in the Groveport/Canal Winchester/Madison Township area dating back to before the Civil War so I feel I have an appreciation for the area's sense of place and identity.
As I go from place to place I talk with people and find out what they like, or don't like, about the Messenger. I'm also able to get some good news tips by being out in our community. There's no other newspaper in the area who has an editor who is part of our community and who is as accessible to the community as I am.
You can rely on the Southeast Messenger (which publishes a print version bi-weekly) being delivered directly to your home every other weekend.
But, if you want your Southeast Messenger earlier, you can visit the following places where I drop off stacks of the paper on my Friday travels:
•Southeast Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library;
•The Canal Winchester Area Chamber of Commerce, Lannie's, Harvest Moon Coffee House, The Wigwam Restaurant, Shade on the Canal, Huntington National Bank (all in Canal Winchester);
•Groveport Huntington National Bank, Groveport Recreation Center, Groveport Municipal Building, Groveport Town Hall, Go Groveport! at 607 Main St., First Service Credit Union, and Groveport Kroger;
•and in Lithopolis at Wagnalls Memorial Library and the Lithopolis Municipal Building.
You can see me walking around town on delivery Fridays, rain or shine.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, May 18, 2009
Down on the farm (May 11, 2009)
I'm a big fan of the Metro Parks. I bicycle frequently at Three Creeks, and Chestnut Ridge and Slate Run are favorite walking areas for me.
But the Metro Park I like the best is actually not a park, but a working 1880s era farm - the Slate Run Living Historical Farm, located at 1375 State Route 674 North, near Canal Winchester.
The farm is often a quiet refuge for me. It's a place where I can just go and sit, no matter the season, and drink in the sights and sounds of a country farm - a crowing rooster, clucking hens, grunting pigs, fluttering birds, gobblers gobbling, brook babbling, horses clomping, cows mooing, wind rustling, and farmers going about their work.
There's also a nostalgic aspect of the place for me. It reminds me in many ways of the Woods farm that my mother grew up on in Madison Townshp and that our family visited often when I was young. Walking through the Slate Run barn and farmhouse I see similar old implements that were still being used on the Woods farm. The livestock is even similar. The Slate Run Farm also has that same unrushed feel to it as the Woods farm. It takes patience to run a farm.
The Slate Run Farm allows my imagination to take flights of fancy into the past. As I walk the long lane to the farm house, I sometimes let my mind wander back to the 19th century and imagine myself as a Union soldier returning home on a solitary walk to my Ohio home after the Civil War. I can hear the words of midwesterner Leander Stilwell (noted in the Ken Burns' documentary, "The Civil War") as he came home to Indiana following the Civil War. He noted the welcome quiet that greeted him in the small towns and farms of the Midwest. Stilwell found that, while the nation had changed, home was still home, a place to be embraced, as he took off his uniform, put on work clothes, and "prepared to wage war on the standing corn." - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, May 11, 2009
Isolation or a new form of community? (May 5, 2009)
Heads down, thumbs flying texting away oblivious to all else. Earbuds from iPods stuck in ears walling off the world's sounds. Hours spent staring and typing away on a personal computer in a room with no other living thing in sight. Passively gazing at a television that requires no interaction.
All this would seem to indicate an odd isolation from the world where one is alone with their personal technology; yet seemingly through these gadgets a person inhabits more than one place at the same time. We are seldom out of touch, but never more solitary.
Some would say this technological boom is a boon to communications, creating the ultimate in individualism and freedom of choice. With texting and cell phones people can be in constant contact. Computers and iPods allow people to tailor entertainment to their own desires. The television offers a window to the world with many programs to choose among.
But they also wall us off from the physical community - from nature, from face to face communication with people, from the tangible world.
Will our social skills atrophy as the gadgets absorb our focus and erode our sense of community and place; or will these devices empower our liberty and help us create a new form of community? - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, May 5, 2009
Comment from Marcia:
Not only are we socially isolating ourselves, but we are losing our ability to communicate well with the spoken and the written word. I can't imagine how this will affect books that come out in 25 years, but I imagine they will lack the quality of expression of ideas in a way that the reader can feel, smell, taste, see, and hear the intended meaning.
The reunion (May 4, 2009)
I've decided to attend my 35th high school class reunion in July. I've been to some Groveport Madison High School alumni banquets over the years, but I've never gone to any of my class reunions.
Going to the reunion will be a bold move for me as I'm not particularly good in social situations. I have the Palsgrove family trait of being fairly quiet. I'm just not an outgoing guy and throughout my life I've tended to keep to myself. Except for a few instances, this was true in my school days as well as now.
But, as I've gotten older, I wonder what has become of my classmates. Public school is such a shared experience and for many of us it is what we have the most in common. Just mention a teacher's name from the old days; or an event - be it big or small; or even nicknames and so many memories come flooding back.
I'm drawn to this 35th reunion. It seems like a benchmark. We're no longer young, but not yet elders. The timing seems right to take stock.
I want to hear the old stories and find out how others who experienced those younger days remember them now. I want to see their faces and recognize the spark of youth in their eyes.
Thoughts of this reunion remind me of a 1980 interview I once heard with the late Beatle, John Lennon, just before he was killed, where he talked about the perspective of looking back and joked, "Weren't the '70's a drag?" But he went on to say, with hope in his voice, that here we are, most of us still here, still together, and still moving on.
That's us, class of 1974. Still moving on. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, May 4, 2009
Digital revolution...blech (April 30, 2009)
Because I'm too technologically lazy and cheap to update to a digital television, or cable or satellite or whatever, I am now saddled with the dreaded digital converter box on my television.
As with many so called "advancements," this infernal box is no enhancement. While I have picked up some extra channels - some of them sort of weird, like the Retro TV Network that shows old forgotten black and white programs that seem stuck in a cultural time warp - actually seeing the programming consistently on all the stations is another matter.
When the wind blows the screen pixelates. When it rains, the screen pixelates. Many times the screen just goes dark for no apparent reason other than "signal low."
My old analog television and antenna worked well. Now that the television signal has been "improved" to digital, my TV has faded to black for me.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, April 30, 2009
The creaking step (April 22, 2009)
That's the sound the step made each time I stepped on it to enter the boyhood room I shared with my brother growing up.
The room was on the second floor of our Main Street home over the garage and for some reason was designed slightly lower than the rest of the second floor. Hence the need for the step to step down into the room.
That creak was a familiar daily sound. It was expected and it never let you down. It was always there.
After I and my siblings had grown up and moved from the home, my parents sold the house to move to a smaller place. I can remember taking one last look around the house after helping them move and I walked to my old bedroom.
Creeeeeeaaaaak. I stepped down into the room for one last look. After slowly drinking in the time that had slipped by in the years spent in the room, I stepped back up. Creeeeeeaaaaak. It then hit me. That's the last time I would ever hear the step creak. Just a creaky step, but a sound I had known all my life would be gone along with the life that lived in that room.
Throughout our lives we are constantly experiencing "the last time." Depending on the moment, it could be melancholy, painful, or happy.
The last time you have to scratch itchy chicken pox is a good feeling because you know you never will have to experience that again. What's better when you're a kid than the last day of school when you have nothing but the green days of summer ahead of you? The last day at a job one doesn't like is a taste of pure freedom and joy. When the last throbs of an old pain fade away it is spirit lifting.
But a last caress, a last kiss, scars the soul as the promise of what once was is now not to be.
Even deeper, the last time to look into the eyes of someone close to you before they pass away brings questions and anguish.
A graduation and then leaving home can be both happy and melancholy. Happy in that the future awaits and sad that a part of one's life is now forever the past.
These are the last times that are known and we see them coming. But what of the last times that come and go before we realize their moment in time is gone for good? These can be the most bittersweet because there's an empty place that we are unprepared to fill.
I wonder if that old step still creaks? - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, April 22, 2009
Groveport School gets state approval for National Register of Historic Places (April 20, 2009)
The Ohio Historic Site Preservation Advisory Board (OHSPA) on April 17 unanimously approved the nomination of Groveport School (now Groveport Elementary and Groveport Madison Junior High School) for consideration for placement the National Register of Historic Places. (See previous blog posting on April 14.)
The school was approved on the basis of its historical significance.
The nomination now goes forward for final federal consideration in Washington, D.C. The federal decision could be made by sometime this summer. - Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, April 20, 2009
The old schools and the National Register (April 14, 2009)
On Friday, April 17, I, along with representatives of the Groveport Heritage and Preservation Society and the Groveport Madison School District, will attend a hearing on the eligibility of the Groveport Elementary and Groveport Madison Junior High school complex for placement on the National Register of Historic Places.
The school complex is one of five historic sites in Ohio being considered this year for nomination to the National Register by the Ohio Historic Site Preservation Advisory Board (OHSPA) in Columbus.
The OHSPA is considering the two structures as one building because they are physically linked by an overhead walkway that ties them together.
If approved by the OHSPA, the nomination will then be forwarded to the National Park Service for a final review and decision later this year.
According to the Ohio Historical Society, listing in the National Register "provides recognition of the property's historic importance and assures protective review of federal projects that might adversely affect the historic character of the property." Also, if listed in the National Register, "certain federal investment tax credits for rehabilitation...may apply."
Listing in the National Register does not place limitations on the property owner by the federal government.
Other public buildings in Groveport listed on the National Register include Groveport Town Hall, Groveport United Methodist Church, and the log house in Heritage Park.
The three story, red brick, ornate Groveport School (now Groveport Elementary) was built in 1923 on land that was once pasture land owned by the Rarey family and where the famous horse Cruiser used to romp. It cost $225,000 and housed all 12 grades until the mid-1950s when a new high school was built next door.
Groveport Madison Junior High served as Groveport Madison High School until 1970 and was built for $550,000 in phases throughout the 1950s on the site of the former Rarey mansion, also known as the Elmont Hotel.
The two buildings feature a striking contrast of architectural eras. Groveport School looks almost church like in appearance while the junior high sports the sleek look of the post World War II era when modernity was fully embraced.
The two buildings have served generations of Groveport Madison students and served as a linear link for families as children of today study and play on grounds where their grandparents also experienced their school days.
The structures, along with nearby Groveport Town Hall, have also been focal points for community activities ranging from concerts, to athletics, to theatrical plays, to lectures and more. They are the embodiment of Groveport's sense of community.
Here's hoping the buildings receive the recognition they deserve.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, April 14, 2009
These are your parks (April 10, 2009)
There's nothing like some well preserved greenspace to help a community find refuge from our hectic modern world.
The village of Groveport has taken positive steps over the years to preserve, maintain, and develop its park system for its residents. The village has an extensive park system that is interwoven into the community and offers a variety of recreational activities - from the soccer fields of wide open Cruiser Park, to the recreational expanses of Groveport Park, to the picnic friendly neighborhood parks like Blacklick and Degenhart parks, to a nice place to reflect like Veterans Park.
The village has also become a bicycle friendly community with its new bike path that connects the village to Three Creeks Metro Park, the path at Groveport Park, and the nature trail that extends from Blacklick Park to Rager Road along the old Ohio and Erie Canal bed.
These are your parks and you should share your thoughts on how they are used and what the future holds for greenspace in Groveport.
With that in mind, the village of Groveport will host a community meeting to gather citizens' opinions about the future development and improvements to the Groveport public park system. The information will be used to help formulate the village's new Park System Master Plan.The meeting will be held at the Groveport Recreation Center, 7370 Groveport Road at 6:30 p.m. on April 15. For information call 836-1000, ext. 223.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, April 10, 2009
The flowers (April 8, 2009)
Each March and April I'm surprised and amazed at the bounty of flowers that pop up in my yard. I never remember from year to year what pleasant blooms will emerge from the winter's mud around my home.
Daffodils, tulips, irises, day lilies, and a host of other natural finery, including the leafy starts of black-eyed susans and orange cosmos which reseed themselves, greet the warming sun.
I did not plant any of these colorful visitors. Some, like the day lilies, were planted years ago by my home's former owners. But most of the flowers that took root in my yard were planted by former girlfriends as well as by my ex-wife. Because of this, each flower has its own tale.
There are the tulips and purple irises that my ex-wife adored. These have multiplied and thrived each year. Along with these purple gems are a strain of what she thought were orange irises that she obtained from my grandmother. My ex-wife was an avid gardener and one clump of irises rises each spring from a spot where she used to have a large compost pile.
The dancing daffodils and some other more exotic looking blooms that I have never identified rise from the work of a girlfriend who once resided with me. These delicate yet strong flowers reflect this woman's spirit.
The black-eyed susans and orange cosmos were the choice of a former girlfriend who loved colorful plants that would last through the summer. She used to like to watch the tall flowers sway in the gentle summer breezes.
The flowers arrive, sharing their beauty and spirit each season and, when the time comes, the wind calls to them and they drift away.
Just as people do.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, April 8, 2009
Memorial marker planned for Groveport Cemetery (April 6, 2009)
Victims of 19th century cholera outbreaks in Groveport may soon have their final resting places marked.
At Groveport Village Council's March 23 meeting, Councilman Shawn Cleary stated a stone memorial planned for the Groveport Cemetery to mark the site the unmarked graves of the 19th century cholera victims will be set in place soon.
The marker will consist of a plaque attached to a block of stone that once had been part of Groveport's Ohio and Erie Canal Lock 22. The stone is one that long ago fell from the lock due to erosion.
The plaque will read:
"In the mid-1800s, the Groveport area experienced two cholera epidemics. It is believed these unmarked graves are those of its victims. Presumably, families brought their relatives here to bury them under the cover of darkness to avoid the stigma of the disease."
The plaque will also include this quote from 1901 from noted Madison Township historian George Bareis:
tality and terror of this season far surpassed any pestilence that ever afflicted the area before or since."
Other unknown gravesites
Old gravesites hold some unseen mysteries and the Groveport Cemetery is no exception.
The village is considering either purchasing imaging equipment, or contracting out the service, in order to locate old, unmarked graves in Groveport Cemetery.
"This is an old cemetery with the oldest known grave dating to 1809," according to Councilman Ed Rarey. "Imaging equipment can help us locate burials. It can show you what is underground."
Rarey said the old fashioned way of checking for filled graves by sticking a probe through the ground until it hit a solid coffin is not always effective on old graves because the wooden coffins of long ago eras may have decayed to the point of disintegration and are no longer solid.
"We want to confirm where people are buried in the cemetery," said Rarey.
He added that many of the old graves from the 19th century once had wooden grave markers and that time and weather simply rotted them away leaving no trace of identification for who lies in the ground below.
Cleary noted that it is important to find the old graves so they are not disturbed by new burials.
"We've had embarrassing moments in the past," said Cleary
Rarey noted that, while digging a new grave, workers sometimes accidentally hit an old coffin in an unmarked plot. In one instance he said the workers then moved over to a different spot only to hit another one.
Inadvertantly opening umarked, occupied graves is not just a recent problem. Rarey recalled a time in the mid-1940s when he was helping Bill Spence dig what they thought was a new grave in the cemetery.
"Bill was just about finished digging the grave, had about a foot to go, and I offered to finish it for him. Bill climbed out and I hopped in the grave, but instead of hitting ground I just kept going and one foot broke through an old coffin lid. I jumped out of that grave in one fast step and just kept running."
Finance Director Ken Salak said the village is obtaining estimates on imaging equipment and it is expected the cost would be less than $18,000.
However, with the village's current budget cuts, it is unknown as to when the imaging equipment could be obtained.
"It would be worthwhile to find the old graves and locate the ones we don't know about," said Salak.
Salak added that, unfortunately, it would be hard to identify the remains in the old, unmarked graves as cemetery records are incomplete.
Rarey said about 430 to 450 grave plots remain available in section five in the west end of the cemetery and about another 200 in section six, located southwest of the log house. Sections five and six are the newest parts of the cemetery.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, April 6, 2009
Album covers a lost art (April 1, 2009)
Lost among the clamor over the many new technological ways to listen to music is the passing of album cover art, which once played a prominent role in the sales and enjoyment of LP records.
The size of the LP vinyl records required a big, square cardboard cover that served as a canvas for visual art that complemented the music on the record. The artwork on the album cover could be used to make a political or cultural statement; convey an attitude; or it could be a stunning photo or drawing that was art for art's sake.
It was always special when a band made the effort to make their album cover interesting, thought provoking, or fun. Bands that simply opted for dull publicity photos of themselves on the covers were disappointments.
Cassette tapes, and later CDs, shrunk album covers to the point where the detail of the art was lost. Now with downloads there's no album cover art at all.
I rifled through my LP collection recently and picked out my top five album covers. They are:
1)"Who's Next," by The Who - The photo of the band members after they had stopped, for shall we say, a roadside rest, spoke of rebellion and a distaste for authority in what could be perceived as a world as wasteland. It's a photo that meshed well with the sounds that LP offered. A perfect image for a teenager to relate to when I bought the record at age 15 in 1971. 2) "Go Girl Crazy," by The Dictators - An album by the New York band famous for only selling a few hundred copies in the mid-1970s, stands out for its humor. The front cover features pseudo wrestler, and Dictators' "Secret Weapon," Handsome Dick Manitoba smiling cartoonishly in a seedy locker room. The back cover includes mocking and funny comments among the album credits. 3) "All Things Must Pass," by George Harrison - I always loved the cover photo of former Beatle George - dressed in workingman clothes and boots with his long hippie hair and beard flowing freely - sitting amongst what looks like bored, stone garden gnomes. There's a surreal quality to it as it appears the gnomes could just get up and walk away whenever they felt like it. 4) "Let It Bleed," by The Rolling Stones - The cover is a colorful ghastly "cake" made up of several layers, including a clockface, LP, tire, what looks like it could be a pizza, and then a layer of overly decorated real cake. The back cover shows the same image cut and disheveled. It implies a taste of this cake could be both rough and sweet, just like the songs contained therein. 5)"Highway 61 Revisited," by Bob Dylan - Granted this cover is a simple photo of Dylan, but what a photo. He looks like a youthful, sneering punk in his motorcycle t-shirt and his wild, unruly hair. He seems to be saying, "What are you lookin' at?" The back cover features a long rambling essay by Dylan that begs deciphering. "Something is happening here but you don't know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones."
•"Blue," by Joni Mitchell - A solid blue cover save for a shadowy, blue picture of Mitchell that shows all the contours of her face in a melancholy way.
•"Lincoln Logs," by Great Plains - Central Ohio's own punk/rock/folk band features a cover of Lincoln as our secular diety.
•"Songs from the Wood," by Jethro Tull - The front cover is a painting of a woodsman that is so detailed it looks like a photograph. The back cover has a humorous painting of a tree stump featuring a record player tone arm "playing" the tree's rings. The cover captures the feel of autumn.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, April 1, 2009
I'm not really a hockey fan, but, though I wish Columbus had snared an NBA team instead of an NHL franchise, I still wish the Columbus Blue Jackets and their fans the best in the team's playoff drive.
The extent of my interest in hockey started and ended with the old hockey game made of metal and wood I had as a kid. (Yes, toys were once made of metal and wood instead of plastic or other unknown compounds!) It was one of those games with the metal rods used to control swiveling metal players as they hit a wooden puck on a wooden playing surface painted to look like a hockey rink. I loved that game, especially the great "clink" sound the wooden puck made when you scored as it hit the metal pan in the goal net.
Back in the 1960s of my youth there were only six teams in the NHL - Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Montreal Canadiens. My game featured Toronto and Montreal players and, in my provincial youth, I remember wishing it had two of the American teams, even though all six teams were made up mostly of Canadians any way. My brother and I played the game a lot and once in a while my Dad tried his hand at it, too. I don't think either of us ever defeated Dad.
I remember a brief interest in the old minor league hockey team, the Columbus Checkers, but that faded quickly as I preferred the NBA's Cincinnati Royals and Boston Celtics, both mostly because they had ex-Ohio State Buckeyes Jerry Lucas (Royals) and John Havlicek (Celtics) on their squads. But beyond my old game, hockey did not have a pull for me. We didn't play it in school and ice rinks were rare things. Plus, I'm a basketball guy and there was always a hoop to be found somewhere - on the playground, the backyard, in the gym, or someone's driveway.
That being said, I can understand a fan's desire for a sport and a team and Blue Jacket fans have weathered many losing years and are deserving of a successful playoff run.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor, March 26, 2009
The Columbus Street blues
The pavement of Lithopolis' Columbus Street has the appearance of a moonscape - gray and dusty, a crater here, another there...hit a big bump and you wonder if gravity will hold you in place.
It's sad to say, but the road was probably better in the 19th century stagecoach days when it was a dirt path.
The village's residents, businesses, and government deserve better.
Lithopolis officials have tried for the past couple of years to get funding to reconstruct the heavily traveled roadway (10,000 vehicles a day pound away at the crumbling street). They put together a pretty solid application seeking funds for the $1.6 million project, but were turned down by the Ohio Public Works Commission (OPWC) in favor of projects in larger government entities' jurisdictions, many of which have road departments with bigger budgets than the entire village of Lithopolis.
The denial is akin to the NCAA basketball tournament committee thumbing their noses at smaller college teams in favor of the large schools just because the big boys are, well, big.
Lithopolis officials are attempting to get a piece of the federal stimulus "shovel ready" project money pie to fix the street. If that fails, another run at OPWC monies could be made.
Let's hear it for the little guy and hope that funding to repair Columbus Street will materialize for Lithopolis. Communities should not be overlooked for funding help merely because they are small.
- Rick Palsgrove, Southeast Editor - March 24, 2009
Comment from Ed:
Thanks for the "Blues". The classic blues is a 12 bar phrase, and although yours is (by my count) a 7 bar riff, I think you have nailed the essentials. I keep thinking (hopefully) of the blues line "the sun's gonna shine in my back door someday" from "Trouble in Mind".
I heard the same disappointing words AFTER working all day at the polls - could hardly believe it!!
On November 1, 2012 Shirley said:
I love hearing your explanation of the early Groveport bridges. Thank you so much.
On November 1, 2012 said:
Another great story Mr. P. And just imagine if we could dig up that old trash dump - what we could find! You would have enough stories to last your lifetime I bet! :o) Keep up the good work.
On September 26, 2012 Shirley said:
Rick, I'm so happy you had a chance to reconnect with the land. It's so important to me, that's one reason our farm is now a part of the Metro Parks of Franklin County. My hope is that this land around us will remain the land it was meant to be a refuge for wildlife, and a green space for humans to enjoy for their lifetime on this earth. And planting a garden is the best thing you can do for yourself and your family. Ed and I still look forward to and plan for next summers garden each year. So thankful we are healthy enough to continue our lifetime interest. And you have many years ahead of you to plan a garden each year no matter what the size.
On September 22, 2012 Shirley said:
Rich thanks for the story, I didn't live in town but I can imagine how exciting it would be to get close to the firehouse and watch the firefighters on the truck pull out of the firehouse. Now they are going up and down Groveport Road in front of my house several times each day. I still look out the window or go to the front of the house. Always hoping the emergency is not at one of my neighbors homes. Shirley
On September 20, 2012 Becky said:
Nice article Rick, I also have a lot of fond memories of the little firehouse in edgewater park which was made up of a lot of volunteers and the Chief lived in the neighborhood when the siren rang out as children we would all run as fast as we could to open the doors for the truck to pull out, And the wives would come and make coffee and phone calls to all the volunteers that were out to far to hear the siren. The wives and fireman also did special event such as Halloween and Easter egg hunts, they boiled and colored all the real eggs.. It was a place you could come and talk to the fireman or just hang or even learn to play a game of pool. Im thankful for those days and great memories. Times were simple.
On September 6, 2012 said:
Very nice Rick. Because. Even in the forties as I grew up in Southern Ohio - I heard only the twice daily train passing within sight of my home. Also within sight, the few cars who passed through on a road not used continually although it was a blacktopped road. We heard the school bus coming to pick us up and the postal delivery truck on its way to the nearest post office (in a grocery store a mile away). And then on Sunday we heard the dozen cars of the people who attended the one room church about a half mile away. The weekdays ended with us waiting at the end of the driveway to greet our father arriving home from work as a welder. We didn't have a car so he rode along with a co-worker both to and from his job. Thanks for a reminder of my quiet slow days growing up in the country!
On August 19, 2012 Max said:
I have many Paw Paw trees in my yard, and over the years the one's that most often bear fruit are the larger older trees. They have a dark maroon flower that is said to resemble rotting meat in color and odor to attract the carrion flies that pollinate them. In your article about the hawk, it most likely flew into a window, stunned itself, and then recovered. I have had this occur many times at my house over the years, with most birds recovering. Unfortunately not all recover, and one of the dead birds near my picture window was a Sharp-shinned Hawk.
On August 13, 2012 Marylee said:
WOW! The tree is for sale, along with the property, located at 576 Main Sreet in downtown Groveport. please visit maryleebendig.com
On August 13, 2012 said:
Great story! Having been born and raised way (way) down in Southern Ohio - I many times ate pawpaws and way (way) before I ever tasted a banana! So I think they are much tastier than bananas. I haven't even seen a pawpaw for many years, so Mr. Froehlich, I may have to drop by for one when they are ripe. What fun to read this story Rick. Thanks again for the great stories you write.
On August 2, 2012 Shirley said:
Thanks for sharing this story, I love reading about any birds with stories of interest.
On August 1, 2012 Josh said:
Rick, if you would update that cellphone a bit, maybe you could've taken a picture of said hawk!
On July 27, 2012 Shirley said:
Thanks for this great story. I love it and I know just what you are saying because I feel the same way. You have some worth reading stories, keep it up. Shirley B.
On July 19, 2012 cheryl said:
the answer is both
On July 18, 2012 said:
WOW Mr. Palsgrove!!! That really gives us a LOT to think about!
On May 9, 2012 said:
What a great story for Mothers Day! I bet others are remembering something extra special about their mother. I am remembering how mine sat with a guitar singing "You Are My Sunshine" and "My Buddy." However, her daughter did not inherit her talents, as I too failed with the guitar and piano! Thanks Rick!
On May 2, 2012 said:
Very nice blog today. And while I'm on here - thanks VERY MUCH for bringing me the extra papers. Blessings to you, Kay
On April 11, 2012 said:
LOVE this one! People often ask me why I am sending then a note (or info) at 1:00 in the morning! Because I can't get to sleep! :o)
On April 11, 2012 Tammy said:
I've "noticed" my entire sleep/wake cycle changing... I guess it is just getting older.lol Side note: I find my self getting hungry for "dinner" a lot "earlier" than I used to?! Uh-oh!!!
On March 14, 2012 Darlene said:
I live in Elmont Place and my house backs a cornfield which goes all the way to Ebright. I have heard coyotes a few times right behind my house within at least 20 feet from my backdoor. Three nights ago they were yelping and scared me terribly,they must have tried to get a scunk because after I started yelling and clapping my hands to scare them the smell came. I have a Yorkie and do not let her go out at all without me being with her. These animals scare me!! I have also seen them many times within the past year in this area.
On January 17, 2012 said:
I came here with a husband stationed at Lockbourne (now Rickenbacker)to a house on Main St.(Owned by Rohrs) and there was a big two story house near the railroad tracks (made into two apts), bought my groceries at the IGA on Main St., the post office was on College/Cherry, St. Marys church was on Front/Blacklick, Methodist Parsonage was on Front St.,Fire and Police on College. My first invitation to church was the Baptist church on Groveport Rd. but a neighbor later invited me to the Methodist church which I soon joined (having always been a Methodist!) and I'm still there! Great stories Rick.
On December 14, 2011 said:
This blog sure brought back some memories! A few months after I married at age 19 - my husband's family butchered a hog. I grew up in the country but had never witnessed such an event. It went exactly as you described and my wonderful mother-in-law (now aged 99!!)canned sausage and bacon (seems like something else that I can't remember). Thanks for the memories.
On November 9, 2011 said:
As a transplant from Southern Ohio living here - I do make an effort to support local business even when I could drive a few miles for a less costly item. I think I will someday not be able to drive, so I want to be able to get what I need in my village. Whoops. City. (It is so difficult to say "city" now.) Smiling.
On October 19, 2011 said:
It would be fun to know where some of those cottages (now private homes) are located!
On September 7, 2011 said:
What a special ending to this story. Though I've only been here in town for fifty years - its nice to think about my church (the Methodist on Main St.) ringing its bells way back then. Nice story.
On June 1, 2011 said:
Great post on "Me, my Mom, and Bob Dylan". Brought back a lot of great memories. Although it wasn't Dylan, my dad exposed me to 50's music of all kinds - a love that has stayed with me to this time! Thanks!
On November 11, 2010 Kim said:
Rick, I feel exactly the same way as you do about voting (At the Polls, Nov. 2). �And I absolutely refuse to vote by Absentee ballot which seems to be the popular thing to do these days (at�least while I am still healthy and able enough to get to the polls). �Now I love new technology and usually embrace it with open arms and mind �But I have to admit I really don't care much for the electronic voting machines �I know we can't stop progress but, at the sake of sounding like an old fuddy-duddy, give me back the old massive voting machines--let me pull the large handle that closes the curtain around me where I truly feel I am surrounded by privacy (and not feel rushed by the peering eyes of others in a hurry to cast their vote); let me hear the clanking sound as I pull each lever, assuring me I have cast each and every vote I am entitled to make. �Let me reopen the curtain and exit, walking past my fellow citizens smiling and proud that I once again exercised my right and civic duty as an American...a right that so many before me fought to ensure that freedom. �A right I will continue to exercise until the day I die....on whatever new-fangled contraption exists at the time. � � � � � ��
On October 6, 2010 said:
Loved your track story. I grew up in Southern Ohio where a train passed several times a day within sight of the house and just down the road was a depot where they tossed out the mail bag for many years - for the grocery stores nearby that had a post office within. I wish they would take better care of the tracks on Front St. When I lived on Front St. in the 1960's and 1970's I broke a windshield on them and a driver must still be really careful when crossing them. At the time I was told that the village was in no way responsible for them - only the railroad people. Oh well. :o)
On August 11, 2010 Mary said:
It is sad that there are not businesses down Main Street to bring people downtown to mill around and visit. When people come out of there homes and meet their neighbors, a town becomes more of a community. People get together, help each other, support the community and enjoy where they live. Without businesses to gather around a community can fizzle.
On June 21, 2010 Jo said:
A page from your "notebook" acts as an anecdote to hectic, cluttered days and always brings a reminiscent smile....
On April 27, 2010 Mike said:
Your unsettling feeling is understood. Among the handful of CD's sitting upon my shelf in my office as I type this are Dylan's Blood on the Tracks and Time Out of Mind along with Mitchell's Blue and Court and Spark. I recall quite a few years ago a friend, that also was a Bob Dylan fan, related a book he read that seemed to insinuate that much of Dylan's character was manufactored during his development in the 1960's. I remember finding that hard to accept or believe. Perhaps he was correct...
Regardless, seeing him at Polaris sometime in the late 90's or early 2000's, holding court on stage dressed in an all white 3 peice suite (white cowboy hat included) standing behind an organ at the front of the stage is one of my best live music memories. Some things you just can't fake.
On April 13, 2010 Jo said:
I could see every house, tree, garden, sidewalk and alley on your route. Know them well!
On February 22, 2010 Jo said:
When I am in need of a quiet moment, I read the Blogs by Rick Palsgrove. We share the
same yen for simple and uncomplicated moments, memories and nostalgia.
On January 15, 2010 Whitney said:
I knew exactly what stoop you were talking about by the end of the first sentence!
On January 12, 2010 Shawn said:
Wow! That brings back memories. I'll have you know that the stoop days at B&J's actually continued for me up until 1980. In 1980, I played freshman basketball (There were 2 Freshman teams at that time). Practice did not start until about 90 minutes after school got out because the coaches were Elementary school teachers and they got done later. All the players used to go to the carry-out and gorge ourselves on pop and junk food. Let me tell you - wind sprints did not mix well with a large bag of Doritos just eaten. In my earlier days I remember hanging on the stoop on a hot summer day after having just bought a pop from Mrs. Wyatt - I'm pretty sure she worked there.
On December 16, 2009 Kristi said:
.........also did you know the fence around the Topiary Garden downtown used to be around the State House??....little tidbit of useless knowledge. K
On December 16, 2009 Kristi said:
Rick.....THAT IS SO TRUE....I didn't even know i knew any Beethoven took a music class one time. Then I was like "hey, I know this."..
On December 9, 2009 Shirley said:
Nice, Rick! I like your writing. Thanks for sending a heads-up for new entries.
On December 1, 2009 said:
Well done. Makes a fitting bookend to your April blog "The Flowers"...similar themes.
On September 3, 2009 Whitney said:
Hey...what about Veteran's Park? Not cool enough for ya? :-)
On June 16, 2009 said:
I hope the wheel gods accept your life-long sacrifices and grant you peace. This installment made my day.
On May 21, 2009 Kristi said:
Hey Rick! I like your blog.... It's nice, personal, reminiscent...yet informative. :) K
On March 25, 2009 Ed said:
Thanks for the "Blues". The classic blues is a 12 bar phrase, and although yours is (by my count) a 7 bar riff, I think you have nailed the essentials. I keep thinking (hopefully) of the blues line "the sun's gonna shine in my back door someday" from "Trouble in Mind".