Archive for the ‘Adventure’ Category

You’ve all heard many a story about a little dog called The Spark. He’s battled coyotes, squirrels, horseflies, spiders, sweepers, the occasional hobo, and a lady in a power suit. Little dude is fearless, and he proved it again today.

Sparky and I welcomed a new addition to our family a few weeks ago, a little Maltipoo named Lilly that needed a home. Sparky has welcomed Lilly with open paws (ok, he does have to let her know who’s boss every now and then) and for the most part it’s been smooth transition. Whenever we’re around other dogs Sparky makes it clear that he’s Lilly’s protector, always staying between her and any potential danger.

Which brings me to our latest adventure . . .

Today I took Sparky and Lilly to a local state park, a place with a huge lake and plenty of room to run around. As I pulled into the parking lot near the dam I noticed a large American Black Vulture sitting there. It had its wings outstretched and it was massive. It had to have a wingspan of close to 6-feet and of course had one of those hairless heads and nasty looking hooked beak. I’d read about these creatures before and knew how mean they could be. Just recently I’d read this in the Louisville Courier-Journal:

They’ll devour slimy newborn calves, full-grown ewes and lambs alive by pecking them to death.

First the eyes, then the tongue, then every last shred of flesh. 

Yeah, so I knew I needed to keep an eye out, and especially up.

As we parked it flew away, but not before Sparky had spotted it and gave a low, gutteral growl. Not much gets past The Spark, man.

I got out of the car first, just to have a look around and scan the skies. I mean, I was pretty sure we’d scared the beast off but better safe than sorry, especially where my dogs are concerned. Plus, I figured no flesh eating bird in its right mind would swoop down with a human standing right there.

All was clear.

The pups hopped out and started doing their thing, trotting around and sniffing everything in sight. I made sure to stay close, especially to Lilly. After all, Spark is 22-pounds, experienced and a badass, but Lilly weighs probably 8-pounds and wouldn’t know danger if it stared her in the face. Spark was about 20-feet to my left, Lilly no more than 15-feet in front of me.

And then it happened.

First I thought Sparky had spotted a squirrel or rabbit and was making a mad dash for it. He was heading straight ahead so I thought he’d fly past Lilly in his hot pursuit. Then, out of the corner of my eye I saw it – the damn vulture was making a dive at Lilly.

For a brief instant I thought Sweet Lilly was a goner. What flashed through my brain was that poor little girl, who’s already been through so much, being carried off to be eaten alive by that winged monster.

Fortunately, somebody wasn’t going to let that happen, and that somebody was Sparky.

Not on my watch, you flying freak.

I promise you that behemoth was 20-feet up and diving as The Spark made his charge, growling and barking like a dog possessed. He leaped up and I swear, for just a split second, that I thought he was going to make contact. Instead, the beast made an excellent life choice – it got the hell out of there.

And as the big bird rose and flew away, Sparky gave chase, looking up and growling as he ran. I’m telling you that dog would still be giving chase had I not ordered him to come back.

Lilly? She was standing under me, shaking, and did so until Spark trotted back and they nuzzled noses together.

And as we walked back to the car, Sparky constantly the skies, ever watchful.

In retrospect, Lilly tore a toenail a couple days ago. It’s being treated but she’s still limping pretty badly. I believe the Black Vulture saw that and estimated Lilly was easy prey.

What it underestimated was the furry ball of protective fury they call The Spark.

I gotchu, girl.



Check it. Click and scroll too see whole photo. Living Vehicle, a California-based luxury mobile home manufacturer, has unveiled its new 2020 Series trailer. The model is designed for full-time living and spending substantial time off the grid. It’s a luxury apartment on wheels — one that will minimize your energy consumption and water waste.

The 28-foot-long trailer offers 220-square feet of living space. Its design maximizes that by offering a lofted queen-sized bed that stores in the ceiling and a fold-out patio deck. Reconfiguring the dining area and opting for an optional fold-out Euro loft bed can increase the sleeping capacity to six.

Want to go off-the-grid and off-the-road? Living Vehicle can outfit the 2020 trailer for overlanding. The trailer has a steel-reinforced aluminum frame, a rear incline for an improved departure angle, and 16-inches of ground clearance. The “Off-Road Option Package” adds off-road tires, additional ground clearance, and a matte black body liner.

The cooking setup is versatile. The “Chef’s Kitchen” package adds an oven, a propane grill, an instant hot-water system, a dishwasher and an ever-critical six-bottle wine cooler. The trailer features a movable kitchen island, permitting outdoor cooking and improved flow within the living space.

Even if you are technically off the grid, Living Vehicle still has you set with multiple “Netflix and chill” options. The trailer comes standard with a WiFi source and a 42-inch 4K TV, and there’s an optional 70-inch home theater setup with a 4K projector.

Living Vehicle plans to produce a “small batch” of 25-trailers for the 2020 Series. Pricing for one starts at $199,995. That is expensive for a trailer (though on par with other luxury trailer options). But if you’re ready to embrace that full-on mobile life, it’s less expensive, better designed, and far better equipped than most apartments.

Lofted Queen-Size Bed? Check. Fold-Out Patio Deck? Of course. Chef’s Kitchen? Why not? Wine Cooler? Sure. WiFi source, 42-inch 4K T, and an an optional 70-inch home theater setup with a 4K projector? Duh. But hey, where’s the hot tub? Do you expect me to live like a damn hot tubless savage? Come on, Living Vehicle. You’re better’n’at. On the positive side, at $199,995 they’re practically giving these things away. Only 25 left kids! Get in line!

PS- Who even considers this camping? Last time I camped I pulled my $17 K-Mart Pup Tent from the hatch of my ’78 Ford Pinto, built a fire with limbs and a wadded up newspaper, stuck some dogs on a sharpened stick, popped a cold Stroh’s and went to town. Those were the days, man.

PPS- Pretty sure my little 2017 Hyundai Veloster could tow that beast with no problems. Veloster is a combination of velocity and roadster after all.


(Travel And Leisure)–The Von Braun Rotating Space Station will likely be the first commercial space station in history. It is due to be completed in 2025, and some people are already calling it the first space hotel in history. Alatorre spoke to Dezeen about the design for the space station, making it sound like the world’s most futuristic and luxurious getaway. The station will have “many of the things you see on cruise ships: restaurants, bars, musical concerts, movie screenings, and educational seminars,” Alatorre said.

Hotel visitors will have fancier technology than what’s on board the International Space Station (ISS). Space tourists will have toilets and showers that function more like what’s on Earth. Drinking water will be brought from our planet and non-potable water will be recycled throughout the station.

Eh, I can’t tell you I’m on board with this. I’ve never been a big space guy so I’m a little ambivalent. I mean, that’s a cool view and all but how long could you look out at space or the earth before you got bored? And you’d only have that cool earth view half the time at the least, right? Or maybe you could see it from either side of the spaceship, I don’t know. I was never a Star Trek guy. Plus there’s the whole possibility of dying thing. That’s always a negative. Anywho, hard pass for me.

PS- Watch that video below. Wild stuff, man.

PPS- The thing is named after Wernher Von Braun, who was influential in building the USA space program. Cool.

PPPS- He was also a Nazi. Not cool.

When you think people pay $50,000 to be guided up the mountain this is pretty funny stuff. Love it.

Ocean Ramsey (yes, that’s her real name) is a dive tourism operator and model. She operates One Ocean Diving in Hawaii, a company which takes adventurists on dives with marine life, including sharks. She’s also a big shark advocate and spends a lot of time fighting the misrepresentation of them in the media. She recently swam with the biggest-ass shark you’ve ever seen, a gigantic 2-ton Great White. If that doesn’t prove she’s either fearless or batshit crazy I don’t know what does. Anyway, check out the photos and video below.

PS- I really admire the work she’s doing for shark conservation, but man I hope this doesn’t end horrifically.

[click and scroll]

Yeah, so this happened. Remember kids, when tandem hang gliding always attach your passenger. That’s Team Hang Gliding 101, really. On a related note, that’s absolutely and utterly horrifying.

PS- The pilot has to be fired, right? Or if he owns the business nobody will ever fly with him again, correct? That’s like a bungee operator not attaching you to the damn bungee. Inexcusable mistake, bro. You’re out.

What? Why? WHY? Why would anyone enjoy walking across this invitation to death? Wanna die? Sure, head on across, kids! The steps are only every two damn feet apart! Oh, and the bridges often have 100-mph winds! Woot!

PS- Seriously, nope.

[click and scroll for the high anxiety]

Looks peaceful enough.

Note: I’ve no clue if this is going to happen yet. I’ve been asked, but as often happens with these international plans, they sometimes fall through. I’ve literally been in the airport ready to board a plane to Antigua when I got a call saying all was off. Let’s just say there are a lot of moving parts that have to come together to make camps like this happen. But man, when they do it’s ALWAYS worth it . . .

So I’ve been asked to direct a charity basketball camp in the city of Lagos, Nigeria next summer. I’ll be in charge of a large coaching staff from all over the world, and the kids attending will mainly be Nigerians from various Nigerian Provinces. As many of you know I’ve directed camps all at several locales, from the midwest to the Eastern Seaboard to the Caribbean. Still, this one could be special, and by special I have no idea what I mean. I know nothing about Nigeria. I have received several emails over the years from a businessman in Nigeria who claims he has some money for me if I could just wire him my bank account information, but I haven’t got around to doing that yet.

So, nothing.

Bottom line I have absolutely no clue what Lagos is like, but the thought of directing a camp there is intriguing to put it mildly. With all that in mind I figured some research was in order. You know, before I go traipsing off to some country I know nothing about. Seems the prudent thing to do. Here’s what I’ve found so far . . .

  • Lagos is a city of 8-million people. Hey, I’m no expert, but that seems like a big city. Ohio has 10-million people, so there ya go. BIG.
  • Apparently Lagos has quite the music scene. A lot of new sounds are emanating from Lagos. Those of you who know me know that’s a huge draw for me.
  • Hakeem Olajawon is from Lagos! Hakeem the Dream! How bad could it be?

I also got on a few chatboards and actually spoke to some folks who told me the people of Lagos are some of the nicest in the world. They also mentioned, very politely, that I probably shouldn’t go out at night. Wait. What? CAUTION REQUIRED seemed to be a common theme. There was also mention of checkpoints where bribes were required and where other nefarious shenanigans were afoot, and by shenanigans I mean people going missing and stuff.

Oh, and one website rated Lagos the world’s 5th Worst Place to Live.

Yikes. But’s let’s not pre-judge.

What the hell, let’s go to the Foriegn and Commonwealth Office and see what they have to say.

There is a high threat from terrorism in Nigeria. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including government, security and educational institutions, international organisations as well as public venues and areas such as restaurants, bars, markets, hotels, shopping centres, places of worship and other areas frequented by expatriates, foreign tourists and business travellers. A number of attacks have taken place around religious and public holidays. There have been regular attacks on churches in northern Nigeria at times of worship. We cannot therefore rule out further attacks taking place. You should be particularly vigilant at these times and in these locations. You should avoid affected areas in the immediate aftermath of an attack.

Damn, they had to mention bars, didn’t they? Shoot. Well, at least there’s no threat of kidnapping or anything. Wait . . .

There is a threat of kidnapping throughout Nigeria. Foreign nationals have been the target of kidnaps. On 20 December 2012 a French national was kidnapped by armed men in Katsina State in northern Nigeria. On 12 May 2011, a British national was kidnapped alongside an Italian national in Kebbi State. Both hostages were killed in Sokoto on 8 March 2012. We advise British nationals to exercise vigilance and caution.

Well, I’m neither British, Italian or French, but I am a foreign national. I’m so confused. But hey, Hakeem Olajawon is from there!

Let’s read on . . .

Localised outbreaks of civil unrest can occur at short notice. You are advised to avoid large crowds, demonstrations and obvious political gatherings. Trouble on the streets can be spontaneous, and can quickly lead to violence. Violent crime is prevalent in the south of the country, including Lagos.

Well, avoiding large crowds should be easy enough. I mean, look at that picture up there!

So, since doing my research I’ve been putting feelers out for a coaching staff to take with me and I must say my loyal coaching friends have been incredibly cowardly open to the idea. Here are some of the actual responses I’ve received:

“Sorry, I have a young daughter at home.”

“I can’t. I have a dentist appointment that week” (I hadn’t told him the dates yet).

“I can’t fly. I have groinal acne.”

“Sorry, I don’t want to get kidnapped and die.”

“Are you f**cking kidding me?”

Still, all things considered, I’ve told them I’m committed to to the camp. Here’s why:

  • It’s for charity. C’mon, you gotta admit it has the potential to be one helluva rewarding experience, right? Right?
  • I’ve been told by several people in Lagos that if you’re there trying to help the country and not get rich from it the bad guys will leave you alone, even go out of their way to protect you. I’m golden.
  • I tell my students that sometimes in life you gotta take a leap of faith for a good cause. I can’t be a hypocrite, now can I? CAN I?
  • I love the game. Seriously, I love basketball. I’ve seen it change, even save, lives. The idea of teaching it to a bunch of eager-to-learn Nigerian kids is appealing to me.
  • It’s going to be a large camp with some major financial backing. I’m assuming we’ll be in good hands. I’m assuming. Seriously, we will be. I think.
  • Making new coaching friends from all over the world and players from all over Nigeria? You can’t put a price on that.
  • Think of the stories I’ll be able to tell! The possibilities are endless. Blog material for years.
  • When I bring back a 7′-3″ 15-year old to play for Paint Valley everyone will thank me.
  • Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I seriously believe that.

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t know for certain this camp will happen. Having said that, I’m sure hoping it will. If so, it’s sure to be an exciting, rewarding, fulfilling, maybe a little frightening, but ultimately once-in-a-lifetime experience.

I can’t wait.

PS – Seriously. Lookin’ for coaches!

UPDATE: Not happening, man. They would not guarantee my lodging in advance. First they said I’d be staying with a local family, to which I counter offered that I needed a hotel, preferably with a well-known name like Hilton or Hyatt or something.  Then they said I’d have a hotel but they’d tell me where it was upon arrival. Nope. No way I’m going to Lagos without everything written in stone in advance. To quote the great Terry Bradshaw, I may be dumb but I’m not stupid. Anyway, opportunity lost.

I swear I get dizzy looking at some of these. People, man.

[click to scroll through the photos]

Was anybody besides me hoping for the propeller to get involved?

Henry Ford famously tried to make personal airplanes available to everybody with his awesome little Ford Flivver, but ultimately failed. That was sad.

Ford’s success in making a car available to every US citizen led him to believe that he could do the same with planes. Thus, Ford hired an engineer named Otto Koppen and charged him with designing a small, light plane.

The design was finished in 1926 and was called “Ford Flivver.” The plane’s flaps were arranged in such a way as to give it maximum upward lift in small spaces, and a rear wheel meant that it could be driven from your home to a makeshift runway.

Unfortunately in 1928, pilot Harry J. Brooks attempted to fly Flivver from Michigan to Miami on a single tank of gas. As he was cruising over the ocean, the Flivver’s engine locked up, smashing the plane and the pilot into the water.

Brooks’s body was never found.

The accident put an end to the project. But in 1940, Ford famously announced, “Mark my words: A combination airplane and motorcar is coming. You may smile, but it will come.”

Since then, humankind has longed for and awaited for their own personal plane. Well kids, our long wait has come to an end. Not only do we have a personal airplane, it also turns into a car. Ladies and gentlemen, the PAL-V Liberty:

Well, hell, that looks fun doesn’t it? Just hop in your PAL-V, fire it up and fly away to parts unknown, land, and drive away like it ain’t no thing. Check out this video:

I want a PAL-V Liberty and I want one yesterday!

Note: Just read where the cost starts at $400,000.00. Never mind.

Nice work, fellas.



Not from that night, but pretty damn close.

Back in 1991 I was in my second year coaching varsity basketball. We had a really good team and we were playing another really good team from another league. Due to what occurred that night I’ll try and leave our opponent’s name out of the story. However, if you were there that night you’ll never forget what went down . . .

Like I said, we were a very good team that year, as we had been the year prior. We were about to play a team we’d beaten the year before, but they’d improved and really, really wanted to avenge that loss.

How badly? We had no idea.

Oblivious to what was waiting for us, we prepared for the game like any other. Game day arrived and we made the bus trip over the hills, into the next county and into our opponent’s gym.

Upon walking in though, we knew something was different. Although the reserve game was just getting started, the place was packed. In those days a full gym wasn’t that surprising though.

However, the emotionally charged atmosphere that hit us as we walked inside was an eye-opener.

As the home crowd stood and booed lustily, we looked around and there were signs everywhere. Some were of the generic variety, some decidedly not.

The gym we were in was pretty small, with maybe 15-18 rows one one side and a set of bleachers on the stage. On a related note, the crowd was decidedly 95% anti-Bearcats. We had a faction of small, but mighty and boisterous, fans in one corner of that stage.

It was then, as we were walking into the gym and towards our locker rooms, that I noticed a sign. Here’s what it read:


Uh . . . oh. Where had I heard that before? And then it hit me. After we’d beaten this team the year before, one of my quotes in the paper was this:

“I was glad to get out of there with a win. That’s a nasty place to play.”

I’ll swear to the day I die I never meant that comment as an insult to our opponent’s small gym. What I meant was that it was a tough place to win because they always had hard-nosed, well-coached teams with loud, loyal crowds. That’s what I’d meant by nasty.

Really, that’s what I meant.

At this point, however? Too late for explanations. I’d insulted their gym, their team, their school, and apparently their entire community, which incidentally was there en masse that night.

We went down to our locker room, which was at the bottom of some stairs under the bleachers. As we dressed we could hear the roar of the crowd, even during the reserve game.

The place was electric.

Eventually we took the floor, of course to loud boos and taunting from the crowd.

As the game progressed, the atmosphere only became more intense. The score was close throughout, which only ratcheted up the intensity. Objects were thrown from the crowd, usually at me, which to my recollection included pennies, candy (my managers loved that), and anything else folks could get their hands on.

At one point the game was stopped and an administrator made an announcement, something along these lines:

“Listen, no matter what the other coach said about our school, please try and stop throwing things at him.”

I swear it was something like that. Probably not the best choice of words, because they only amped the crowd up more.

And man, if you’d have heard some of the things being yelled at me from behind our bench your jaw would have hit the floor.

Anyway, as we entered the last quarter we were in trouble. We trailed a very talented team whose crowd wanted a win very badly. With around 5:00 remaining, we were down by 10-points.

But then, thanks to a timeout followed by a furious full court press, we made a run. Did I mention we had three of the best little defensive guards in the league in Todd Shoemaker, Casey McFadden, and Roman Diekan? All three were 5-10 and they would get after you defensively.

Not only that, they feared nobody. Not even hundreds of angry fans giving them Holy Hell from the bleachers. Shoot, it made my guys play harder.

Bottom line, we held our opponents scoreless the last 5:00 of the game, and eventually forced overtime. It was on.

As we readied for the overtime tip, the din of the crowd was deafening. But the real fun was about to commence.

The Bearcats got the tip, and it was then we made the decision to hold the ball.

Yep, you read that right. We decided hold the ball and go for the last shot.

Hey, we had three of the best guards, defenders and ballhandlers in the Scioto Valley Conference, we were playing in a hostile (to put it mildly) environment, so why not hold it and go for the win?

And that’s exactly what we did.

Todd, Roman and Casey dribbled and passed their way through the overtime, running a weave out front as our opponents tried desperately to regain possession of the basketball.

Wasn’t happening, man. And as you can imagine, this only amped up the tension higher with the crowd, if that were possible.

We burned the clock in that spread offense until there were about 5-seconds left, when Todd Shoemaker rifled a no-look, bullet pass from the top of the key to 6′-5″ sophomore (and future 1st Team All-Ohioan) Craig Kerns under the basket. Kerns was immediately fouled on the wide-open layup, giving him two free throws with 1-second remaining in the tied game.

It was then we called a timeout, and I told Craig to make the first shot (I had no doubt he would) and miss the second, giving the other team no time to get the rebound and call their own timeout and attempt a last second prayer of a play.

As Craig was lining up for the first shot, I saw Todd walk up from beyond the 3-point line and whisper something to him. He actually had his hands cupped over his mouth as he whispered in Craig’s ear. In retrospect I should have known something was up. Alas, in the heat of the moment I did not.

So, Craig made the first to put us up 1 and missed the second as directed. An opposing player grabbed the rebound threw up a desperation shot that missed, and we’d pulled off the big comeback win under very difficult circumstances.

One of the incredible final stats was that we held a very good team, including the last quarter and overtime, to zero points over the last 9-minutes of the game.

As I started to go over to shake hands with the opposing coach, I caught something out of the corner of my eye. As I turned to look, I saw Todd and Craig running towards the opposite wall. Then I saw them rip a particularly offensive sign off the wall.

Uh-oh. So that’s what they’d been talking about.

I can’t say it was the best decision they’d ever made, but they’d also been suffering through some pretty intense verbal abuse the entire game. Did I condone it? No. Did I understand it? Yes I did.

At that point, well, all hell broke loose.

People poured onto the floor and fights seemed to be breaking out everywhere.

My assistant coaches, Daron Myers and Pete Hollon among them, were fending off people trying to get at me, and at one point formed a circle around me as we attempted to get our team to the locker room.

I remember that Craig’s father Brad, our film guy, forgo the ladder that led to his little crow’s nest where he’d been filming and basically jumped down to join the fray.

Finally, we made it downstairs to the locker room. Once there, we could hear people at the top of the steps yelling nasty things down to us. A group of our parents actually stood guard at the top of the stairs. I told my players to sit tight, that we’d have to wait this out until things calmed down. Soon after that, a local policeman came to tell us the same thing, that they were calling in some more enforcement to clear the gym.

My players didn’t even change into their street clothes. They just sat there waiting to be told what to do next.

Over an hour later the gym was eventually cleared, but a lot of people were still waiting for us in the parking lot. Soon, a plan was hatched. Our bus left the lot it was parked in and was brought around to the other side of the school. With a large group of our fans forming a tunnel, we snuck out through a side door and boarded our bus.

What happened next seems surreal even today. After we were all seated, the Sheriff of the county we were playing in got on the bus, stood at the front, and said this:

“You fellas better keep  your heads down until you get out of _______ County.”

Yep. That actually happened. I have witnesses.

On a related note, do you know how you can tell you have loyal assistant coaches? When, after hearing what the local sheriff just said, you have this discussion with one of them:

Coach Myers: “Coach, switch places with me.”

Me: “Why?

Coach Myers: “You’d better get away from the window. They’ll be aiming for you.”

That’s loyalty, folks.

As we pulled out we were escorted, front and back, by several cars and trucks from Paint Valley. Behind our fans, in the back, followed a lot of cars that were not from Ross County. When we crossed into Ross County, those cars turned around and went back from whence they came.

You may not be surprised to learn that I got several phone calls the next day, most from angry fans threatening to beat my ass but with a few death threats thrown in for fun as well.

Good times, huh?

Our twice yearly regular season games with that opponent were cancelled for the foreseeable future, although the very next year we happened to draw them in the sectional tournament. Again, they couldn’t beat us.

Thank God it was on a neutral court.

Note: Folks from the school and opponent in question will most certainly have a different perspective regarding what happened that night, and they are certainly welcome to chime in if they feel the need.


1Another story from my misspent youth . . .

We had a kid in our neighborhood when I was growing up that was, shall we say, lacking in the looks department. Ah, what the hell, he was the ugliest SOB I’ve ever seen. He had a bulbous nose, elephantine ears, beady eyes, and his complexion was so bad it looked as if his face had caught on fire on somebody’d put it out with a rake.

God, I can be mean. But seriously, this dude’s parents had to tie a steak around his neck to get the dog to play with him.  I swear he had to sneak up on a glass of water to get a drink. Hey-O! I could go on forever.

In addition, he was really big for his class at school. Alright, so he’d been held back a couple of times. But he was still big for his age, and not just big-big. Humongously fat-big. Add some long greasy hair to the mix and I think you get the visual.

The guy’s last name was Granderson, and for some unknown reason that only our then-addled minds could understand, we called him Grungy. Grungy Granderson. Hey, it seemed to fit.

Anyway, he hated the nickname. Hated it. If you ever called him that you best be sure that you weren’t within grabbing distance or you were in for a severe ass-whipping. However, since Grungy was lacking in the footspeed department some of us would occasionally get away with actually calling him that to his troll-like face. The fact that Grungy was such a mean and hateful guy somehow made this acceptable in our world.

Wait. Now that I think about it, it’s sort of obvious why he was so angry all the time. The world can be a cruel place, man.

I actually felt a hint of remorse there for a second. Hold on . . . OK, it passed.

That said, one day I was cruising by Twin School on my bike with my buddy Buddy (seriously, his name was Buddy) when we noticed Grungy shooting some hoops on the playground. Buddy, who could be a bit of a jackass, then suggested we ride over and torment Grungy a bit. After all, we were on our bikes and he was not. Seemed like a safe and entertaining way to kill a few minutes. Have I mentioned I was once one helluva punk-ass kid?

Before we rode over there, though, Buddy and I had this conversation:

Buddy: “Hey, why don’t you see how close you can get to him, call him Grungy, and then take off?”

Me: “Why don’t you?”

Because I’m quick like that.

Buddy: “C’mon. I dare you.”

Me: “No way man. That dude would crush my spleen if he caught me.”

Buddy: “You’re a chicken.”

Me: “For once in your life you are correct. I am a chicken.”

Buddy: “C’mon. I double dare you.”

Now, when I was 12-years old you could dare me, you could call me chicken, you could question my manhood. But you could not double dare me. Ever. Double dare me and I would take you up on it. That was the the rule of the street in Bourneville, Ohio in the late 60s my friends. I know, it makes no sense, but anyone in my age group knows exactly what I’m talking about.

So . . .

We rode on over and I immediately began circling Grungy on my bike, saying clever things like:

“G-r-u-n-g-y . . .”



“What’s up Grungy?”

“G-R-U-U-U-U-U-N . . .”

A-n-d I never got that last part out because a basketball had just slammed into the back of my head at approximately the speed of light. I swear it felt like a cannonball had hit me from a distance of 10-feet, thrown by an angry King Kong after 17-Red Bulls and a shot of liquid adrenaline. To this day if you look closely at the back of my head I’m pretty sure you can see the faint outline of the word “Spalding” there, backwards.

Of course I flew off my bike, and when I came to my senses Grungy was towering over me like an enraged Goblin on steroids.

Man, was he pissed.

He then picked me up by the front of my t-shirt and belt of my pants, held me over his head, and threw me like a rag doll into the air. While airborne it felt like I was moving in slow motion. Everything became quiet and it was actually quite peaceful for a few seconds. While up there I believe I actually caught a glimpse of Buddy, my supposed friend, pedaling away at warp-speed while glancing over his shoulder in fear, like a hobo being chased by a guy with a job offer.

Of course all that ended when I landed on the playground blacktop.

I sat up, stunned, looking around wildly for the expected onslaught that was to come. But nothing came. All I saw was Grungy riding away on my little bike, looking like one of those bears in the circus that they’ve taught to ride a bicycle. It would have been funny if I’d had any feeling in my upper torso.

After sitting on the ground for awhile trying to catch my breath and my bearings and feeling around for missing teeth and you know, blood, I got up and walked home.

And there, leaning against a tree in my front yard, was my bike.

Grungy had left it for me.

God knows I deserved what I got and he had every right to roll my bicycle into Paint Creek or something, but for some reason he didn’t.

Grungy moved away soon after that, and I never got the chance to ask him why he left my bike for me. I guess somewhere deep inside that big, mean, ugly body there beat a good heart.

I sort of wish I’d known that sooner.


Boom. Roasted.

NY PostA sharpshooter killed a top ISIS executioner and three other jihadists with a single bullet from nearly a mile away — just seconds before the terrorist was set to burn 12-hostages alive with a flamethrower, according to a new report. The hostage burning was to be filmed to show America.

Boy, this sure gives new meaning to the phrase “Boom. Roasted!”, huh?

From what I read, the British Special Air Service marksman badass turned one of the most hated terrorists in Syria into a crispy critter by using a Barrett .50-caliber rifle.  He did it by striking a fuel tank affixed to the jackwipe’s back. The pack exploded, killing the terrorist and three of his men who were supposed to film the execution. Up to 12 civilians were going to be murdered — eight men and four women. They say the executioner gave some sort of rambling speech, and those were his last words. When he finished, the SAS sniper opened fire, blowing The Butcher and his three flunkies to smithereens and sending them straight to hell.

The captives were then rescued by British and US special forces.

Bloody well done, chap. Time for a spot o’ tea.

Run Over by a Truck

Posted: August 13, 2016 in Adventure, Humor, Kids

Yep. This happened.1

When I was 11 or 12 my buddies and I got on this kick where we built homemade go-carts. We’d take the wheels off of an old wagon or something and attach them to a 2×4, make axles, and go from there. We’d attach the axles with a bolt down through the middle, and in that way we’d be able to steer with our feet.

Make sense?

Anyway, the go-carts became quite elaborate with sides and roofs (we’d use whatever wood, tin, or anything we could find in our parent’s garages) along with some creative paint jobs. For mine, I found a big rectangle shaped board and nailed it to the bottom of my go-cart. It made it look like it had wings, so I christened it “The Flying Dutchman” because I’m part Dutch and part German. And hey, even at my young age “The Nazi Death Wagon” just didn’t seem appropriate.

If you’ve been reading my “Childhood Injuries” series, you know that we didn’t exactly err on the side of caution when I was a kid, so it probably won’t surprise you to learn that we raced our go-carts right down the hill on Twin Road. Yes, it’s a pretty high traffic area, but I don’t recall that being figured into the equation at the time.

So we’d have these races down the hill, two at a time, winners advancing just like March Madness. This was a different kind of madness, but still. Each cart had a pusher that would give you a start, just like the bobsledders in the Olympics. My pusher was Ted, the same guy who knocked me out with a beer bottle and watched me plummet 20-feet out of a willow tree. In retrospect, Ted wasn’t exactly a lucky charm for me, but at the time that hadn’t occurred to me.

One day we’re having our races, and Ted gives me a helluva shove. I’m leading by a hefty margin, hunched over to reduce wind resistance as The Flying Dutchman hurtled down the hill.

All was well until I saw the truck.

It was pulling out of Keran Street, which ran perpendicular onto Twin Road. The guy driving the truck looked right, then left towards me. He didn’t see me, perhaps because he was looking for a regulation vehicle on a public road and not a small wooden contraption built from garage junk. Then he turned left, directly towards me, and it was too late for me to ditch.

I was going to be hit.

At this point I had few options. The truck was going to run right over me. It was too late to roll off the go-cart, so it looked like the end for young Dave.

Listen, if you’ve never seen a truck grill coming at you at 30-mph from a height of about 2-feet off the road you haven’t lived. Without really thinking, I just reached up and grabbed the truck bumper as it went over my head. Somehow, I stayed in the cart but unfortunately the truck kept going. In the background I could hear my buddies yelling, “STOP! YOU’RE KILLING OUR FRIEND!” or something along those lines.

The guy probably only drove a few feet with me dragging under his front bumper but it seemed like, oh I don’t know, 43-miles. This was probably so because every second I held on I expected to lose my grip and be crushed by the undercarriage of a 1968 Ford F100.

But I didn’t, and the driver finally stopped. He jumped out and pulled me from under his truck, genuinely concerned that he may have killed a child. Except not really. He ripped me a new one:

“What the hell do you think you’re doing? You rolled right under my truck you %$#*&%$ IDIOT!!” 

Yeah, because it’s all about you, bud.

Bottom line I was unhurt, miraculously I might add. And I somehow avoided peeing my pants, which saved me from great ridicule on the mean streets of Bourneville, Ohio.

After some more ass-chewing and the extrication of The Flying Dutchman from under the truck, I pulled my undamaged go-cart back to the top of the hill, where the races continued. After all, life went on, fortunately for me.

And hey, it was just another near-death experience for me. No big deal. Just another day in the life of a southern Ohio kid in the late 60s.

Artist’s rendering.

This was one of the stories in a series about my susceptibility to almost getting killed as a kid. I’ve alluded to this little mishap before, so stop me if you’ve heard it already.

On Halloween when I was, oh, maybe 11 or 12, my buddy Ted and I decided to climb the big willow tree in my front yard and scare the bejesus out of passing children. If you have to ask why you don’t know what fun is, folks.

I was climbing ahead of Ted, at least 20-feet up. He was probably 10-feet off the ground behind me. I reached for a branch, it broke, and next thing I knew I was hurtling downward, backwards, towards the gaping jaws of death. You ever fall from a great height backwards? A lot of stuff goes through your head as you fall all slow-motiony and whatnot through the air, like “I hope mom will be OK without me” or “I sure wish I would’ve kissed Debbie Mirkelson on the playground last Tuesday when I had the chance“, or perhaps, “Oh no, when they clean my room they’re going to find those magazines under my mattress.”

Too specific? never mind.

My point is, you actually experience great insight and retrospection on the way down. I actually think I may have understood The Grand Unification Theory for a second, but sadly it vanished from my brain upon impact. Anyhoo, as I flew past Ted, and you may find this hard to believe, but he actually yelled, “A-h-h-h-h-h-h-h . . .” imitating a man falling down a hole.

What can I say? I’ve had some really weird friends in my life.

So I hit the ground, landing on my back, and all the air went out of me. Things went black and I thought, “So this is what it’s like to be dead.”

Except I wasn’t, although for a second I’m pretty sure I saw Jesus.

Soon Ted came down and shook me, probably not the preferred method of treatment, and it was only then that I began to feel the pain. My back hurt like hell, but something was seriously wrong with my mouth. I instinctively reached in there to see what was wrong, and to my horror there was a a lot of blood and a substantial sized hole in my tongue. I ran screaming bloody murder into my house, only to be chastised by my parents for interrupting a scintillating episode of “My Three Sons” or something.

Did anyone call 911? Nah. Was I taken to the emergency room? I was not. I got a wet rag, stuck it in my mouth and got on with my life.

Bottom line? Even though I still have a lump in my tongue today, it healed. And my back is fine if you ignore the fact that, on rainy days, it feels like a honey badger is chewing on my lower lumbar vertebrae.

What can I say? ‘Twas a different, and in many ways better, time.

I’ve been lucky enough to do a lot of cool things in my life. I really can’t complain. I’ve been behind the bench at Final Fours, been courtside during the glory days of Duke-Maryland, been to a handful of World Series games, a Presidential Inauguration and an NBA All-Star game. I saw Hank Aaron tie Babe Ruth’s home run record, and I’ve been backstage at several rock concerts and even met a few rock stars. Hell, I even stared into a volcano less than 36-hours before it erupted for the first time in recorded history.

Still, there a several things I want to do before I die. Some are going to be pretty easy to achieve. Others, not so much.

Will I make all of these happen? Not likely. Will I try? Oh yeah. I’ll give what I perceive to be my chances of meeting my goals after the description. Let us begin . . .


Allow me to tell you a quick story. Back in college I led a group of my friends to Xenia, OH where we intended to do the whole skydiving thing. I actually organized the trip. We got there and went through the whole practice routine. Back then you had to jump off a little platform and practice your landing roll and whatnot. Anyway, we got up in the air and I was first in line. They rolled open this big cargo door and suddenly I could see cornfields and roads and cows and stuff down below. At that point every single fiber of my being was screaming at me, “Man cannot fly. You are not supposed to do this.” At that point I just froze. I couldn’t do it. And then, after I chickened out, I got the whole “Well, if Shoe’s not jumping I’m not jumping” thing from my moronic friends, so much to the chagrin of our instructors a grand total of nobody ended up skydiving. Bottom line I’ve regretted it ever since, and although I’m terrified of heights I’m taking the plunge. Soon. I have to. Who’s with me?

My chances: 90%. God, please help me go through with it this time.


I took piano lessons for a few years when I was little. Like the dumbass that I was, I quit to focus on, oh I don’t know, riding my bike or something. At one point I could actually play a few simple songs, and to this day I regret quitting piano. I would love to be able to sit down and play something today.

My Chances: 40%. Time is my only enemy. And I don’t mean it’ll take 30-years to learn, I mean I’ll have to find the time.


The Cavern Club.

I’ve always dreamed of going to England and seeing all of The Beatles sites. The Abbey Road crossing, the rooftop where the live “Let It Be” songs were performed, there’s even a Magical Mystery Tour that takes you down Abbey Road and past Strawberry Field. And I’m not sure I could even speak as I stood on 10 Mathew Street in Liverpool and stared at the legendary Cavern Club, where it all began. Yep, it’s still there, waiting for me. I’d also like to head up to The Netherlands while I’m in the area. I’ve always been fascinated by that part of the world.

My chances: 75%. I’ll do almost anything to make this happen. 


I want to write a novel, and I actually have some ideas. Will it be any good? I have no idea but I want to try. And I want to be published, not just do some online book that just about anyone can do these days. Stay tuned.

My chances: 10%. Like I say, writing is the easy part, getting published is another story (pun intended).


As a lover of history I have to visit both of these historic sites. I’ve been to Gettysburg, Fort Sumter, and several other places, but I simply have to see where John F. Kennedy was assassinated, visit the Book Depository, and go to the place where Davy Crockett, William Travis and the boys fought so bravely.

My chances: 99%. I just can’t put 100%. I don’t want to tempt fate.


For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to travel The Mother Road, the Main Street of America. Yes, there are places where you have to hop on the interstate for a while, but most of it is still intact. It begins in Chicago and ends in Los Angeles, and it’s mostly two-lane blacktop. It was in decline for years but has been largely restored. As a kid I used to watch a TV show called Route 66, and I’m pretty sure that’s where I originally got the idea. “Get your kicks on Route 66!” Oh, and preferably this trip will take place in a convertible, top down of course.

My chances: 85%.  Don’t have to do this. Need to do this.


Preferably Alabama, Georgia, LSU, or Auburn. There’s just something about tailgating down south at an SEC game that’s always appealed to me. Surely there has to be a Shoe: Untied reader with connections. Anybody?

My chances: No idea, but I’ll be positive and say 67%.


Let’s see. I love shrimp, I love BBQ, I love New Orleans Cuisine. MUST. HAVE.

My chances: 95%. This will happen. 


So far I’ve only been to arenas in Chicago, Indianapolis, Orlando, Atlanta, Washington DC and Cleveland.  I also used to watch the Cincinnati Royals at Cincinnati Gardens, which is sadly about to be destroyed. There are 30 NBA teams, so I have a LONG way to go. I simply must see Madison Square Garden in New York and The Staples Center in L.A. Hey, I have time, right? Right?

My chances: 5%. That’s a lot of traveling.

So there you have it, my Bucket List. Can I make it all happen? Who knows, but I can sure try. And after all, the fun is in the journey, right?

Now if you’ll excuse me I have some planning to do.



Smooth move, squirrel.



Yeah, but you should see the bear.

(Source) A Sudbury, Canada man is walking away with only scratches after fighting a 300-pound black bear. Sixty-one year old Rick Nelson was walking his dog in the Panache area on Sunday afternoon when he stumbled across the bear’s cub. “I sat down on a log and the bear cub poked its head out of the shrub nearby. It was so close I could touch it. It let out a yelp, because I scared the heck out of it,” Nelson told CBC News. “I knew right away I was in trouble,” he said. “It’s calling for mommy.” Nelson is a former bear hunter, so he stood up knowing he only had seconds to spare. “The mother was coming full speed. All you could hear was the bush crashing. I had no rocks, no sticks, but I couldn’t let it get me or my dog” he said, but he did have a lot of boxing practice. Nelson tried to swing at the bear but missed, hitting it in the teeth. The bear hit back, scratching Nelson across the chest and face. “I knew it would swing first with its left but it would really come with its right, because most bears are right-handed,” Nelson said. So Nelson swung a second time. “I had the perfect shot to take. I did an underhand and hit it right in the snout. You want to make sure if you punch a bear that you’re hitting it straight in its snout. That’s really the only thing you have on a bear that will really startle it,” Rick Nelson told CBC News. The mother bear turned around and it was snorting blood. It looked at me, and I thought, ‘Oh no. Here it comes,’” he said. “But it just turned back around and walked away like nothing ever happened and followed the cub,” Nelson said.

Luck schmuck Rick Nelson. That bear knew exactly what it was doing and that was getting the hell out of there. Why? Because it just got a bloody nose from an uppercut by Mr. Rick Nelson. Go snort your blood elsewhere, bear.

Men, remember this tonight when you shriek like a little girl at that bee in your yard. Man up a little for once.

Honestly, my favorite part of this story is how Rick knew the bear would probably try and set him up with the left before he came with the big overhand right because most bears are right-handed. Of course everybody knows this. My second favorite part is how Rick explains matter-of-factly that “You want to make sure if you punch a bear that you’re hitting it straight in its snout” as if this happens all the time. Remember this tidbit next time you box a bear, kids.

PS- I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Rick Nelson understands bear-talk too. “It was calling for it’s mommy.” Rick Nelson, man. Old school badass.

Can’t wait for this one.


The Ride

Posted: May 10, 2016 in Adventure, Humor
Tags: ,

Not Army, but this is how it looked. At least in my memory.

Sometimes incredible, amazing things happen when you least expect them.

I love summer, I love the beach, and I always spend time there during June, July or August. Hell, sometimes an October or April visit is in order. And maybe because summer is approaching, an unforgettable incident that happened a few years ago recently popped into my head.

It happened in the Outer Banks. I was with some family members, including my nephews Josh and Canon and my brother-in-law Army. We were down at The Point, where if you have a 4-wheel drive there you can drive right out on the beach.

Let me say this straight out –  if you happen to know Army this story will be infinitely funnier, because he’s at the center of the action and well, he’s Army.

You see, we were all out on the ocean body-surfing that unforgettable day. We were catching some pretty good waves, just enjoying the beautiful weather, the sand and the surf. None of us could have possibly imagined what we were about to witness, an event so epic in its awesomeness it’s etched in my mind forever.

All of us except Army had taken some waves into the shore and were wading/swimming back out towards the breakers when it happened. A wave was hurtling towards us, much bigger than any we’d seen that day. This thing was a mini-tsunami. We were only about a third of the way out so it was too late for any of us to catch it. We looked for Army but he was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps he was on the other side of the monster, we had no idea.

Then, about 5-feet in front of the wave, just under the surface and slicing through the sea, we saw him. Army had caught the Mother of All Waves, and was experiencing what would henceforth and forevermore be known simply as . . .

The Ride.

I swear he looked like a torpedo, arms straight out with hands clasped above his head, face down and ankles close together in the back. He shot by us like a meteor as the humongous wave pushed him forward.

‘Twas truly a glorious sight.

We watched, almost in a trance, as he bulleted by. It was then the wave caught us all by surprise, tossing and flipping us over into the angry, churning sea. We came up sputtering and coughing, desperately trying to catch another glimpse of Army and the Body Surf to End All Body Surfs.

The wave crashed to the shore, and as it receded there lay Army, facedown in the sand. I swear he was a good 30-feet from where the sand met the surf. For a few seconds we thought he was dead, but then he slowly rolled over and sat up, stunned. As he looked around, seemingly confused and disoriented, it began . . .

A slow, rhythmic clapping from people all around us on the beach. Some actually rose from their towels to stand, to honor this man who, by performing this feat in front of them, had surely changed their lives forever.

I think I may have even seen a man go to his knees and give the universal “I am not worthy” raising and lowering of his hands.

And in the sky, an old pelican tipped his wings in a show of admiration and respect.

As Army stood, he simply turned to the adoring beachgoers and gave them a thumbs-up, followed by a knowing nod of the head.

It was all that was needed in that moment.

The perfect form, the catching of a once-in-a-lifetime wave at the precise moment, the sight of this man-dolphin slicing through the waves like a barracuda pursuing a grouper – these visions will be in the minds of witnesses forever.

Yes, those fortunate enough to be in attendance that day will never forget, can never forget . . . The Ride.

The Man-Dolphin and his adoring wife.

The Man-Dolphin and his adoring wife.

Yeah, I know I’ve sort of been purging my soul lately. Once again I’m about to tell you a story that bvlaI’m not particularly proud of. Just try and remember that there is no correlation between my compassion for people and my ability to joke about their misfortunes.

But as I’ve said on previous posts, funny is funny.

Right? Besides, no laws were broken that I’m aware of and nobody was injured as far as I know so it’s all good.

It happened years ago when my friend Jay and I got the idea to spend a lazy Saturday floating down Paint Creek, from a few miles west of Bainbridge to just west of Chillicothe, a distance of maybe 20 miles. Problem was we had no kayaks or a boat of any kind.

After asking around, one of my relatives mentioned that my late grandpa had a big old Jon Boat in his shed, one of those that was rectangular shaped and about 12-feet long. The thing was huge. Perfect, we thought. We’d commandeer that baby and go to town.

We loaded up the Jon Boat in my buddy’s truck (not an easy job – I think we turned it upside down and it practically covered the cab of the truck), stopped for some beverages, and hit the highway. Soon we were at our drop off point (a friend was to drive the truck to our destination and leave it there) and we were ready to turn off our minds, relax, and float downstream.

Note I: That was a Beatles reference. However, they weren’t talking about Jon Boats, creeks and whatnot. Trust me.

However, as we exited the truck we noticed something a bit unnerving – the water was really, really high. And fast. Being the inexperienced boaters that we were, checking the water level had never crossed our minds. In addition, being the moronic doofuses that we were, we didn’t even have lifejackets.

Note II: While looking up the plural of doofus, I discovered that “doofi” is also accceptable. Doofi. How cool is that? 

Bottom line, we were woefully unprepared to launch our vessel into the raging, swollen tributary that was Paint Creek. Hell, anybody with a brain would have turned back right there. Of course, we thought about it for about 3-seconds, tossed our cooler into the boat and ventured onward.

It became clear right away that we were in over our heads, so to speak. The place where we entered the creek was just above a section called The Falls, and the water was high and moving fast. On a related note, it soon became clear that Jon Boats weren’t made for white water rafting.

We began moving and immediately started picking up speed. The original idea of a leisurely float down the creek seemed like a dim memory. Still, we thought if we could get through the upcoming falls things would slow down a bit and we’d be fine.

And we probably would’ve been, had it not been for the Cincinnati Area Youth Kayak Club awaiting us around the bend.

We first saw them as we rounded a slight turn in the creek, and there had to be thirty of the little bastards in the water up ahead. Turns out they were having one of those team building exercises that day. They all had these cute little different colored kayaks, nice little protective helmets, and of course lifejackets. They weren’t stupid, after all. That would’ve been us.

Yeah, sorta like this.

Yeah, sorta like this.

In addition, there were counselors among them, some in kayaks and others on the bank with bullhorns, shouting instructions. I found out later that many in the Cincinnati Area Youth Kayak Club that day were kids who had had been in trouble at school or with the law, the idea being that spending a day on the creek, learning to operate a kayak and getting in touch with nature would do them good.

Oh, they got in touch with nature alright.

Who knew a 12-foot rectangular shaped Jon Boat could go faster than a 6-foot kid’s recreational kayak?

Chaos was about to ensue.

We stormed through the kayakers, all the while being screamed at and chastised by the men with bullhorns on the shore. Jay may or may not have flipped them off as we flew by, but that can’t be confirmed. The little kayakers paddled away frantically, desperately trying to avoid contact with our battleship. I can’t lie to you, I’m pretty sure I heard some crying, and yes, there were screams of terror as we barreled through. I swear at one point I thought we were going to t-bone a kid in a kayak, but somehow (out of pure terror I suspect) he summoned the power to miraculously paddle out of harm’s way.

Not all were so lucky, however. We clipped one of the pint-sized kayaks on its tail, sending a youngster overboard and into the drink. I’m pretty sure I yelled “Sorry!”, though I can’t be sure. Last I saw he was dog-paddling his way to the outstretched oar of one of the adults.

It was sort of like Moses parting the Red Sea, the way those little kayakers got out of our way. It was a beautiful thing, really. You know, other than the kid that almost drowned. As we pulled away from the mass confusion, we saw instructors, kids and parents alike shaking their fists at us as we made our escape.

Of course, Jay and I had a great view of all this because at that point we were floating backwards.

We continued on downstream that morning, half-expecting the authorities to be waiting up ahead somewhere, ready to charge us with inducing panic or negligent use of a Jon Boat or, you know, attempted murder.

But alas, nothing. We’d escaped unscathed.

Too bad I can’t say that about the kid we nearly killed. Little dude probably never went near a creek again.

paddleNote: The names  in the following story have been changed to protect the parties involved. Except mine of course. I’m pretty sure the statute of limitations has passed by now.

If the story I’m about to recount had taken place in 2006 or even 1996 everyone involved would have probably been fired. But this was a different time, a different place. This was 1985, and the place was Greenfield, Ohio. Read on …

It was mid-morning and I was teaching Reading at the time. Teaching Reading was great because they basically let me write my own curriculum, which is either downright horrifying or spectacularly exciting, depending on your viewpoint and opinion of me as a professional educator. Let’s just say I created some unorthodox lessons plans, such as deciphering the lyrics to Don McLean’s “American Pie”, or “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “I Am the Walrus” by my beloved Beatles. Hey, there’s nothing more fun than explaining what John Lennon meant when he wrote “I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together” or “Yellow mother custard, dripping from a dead dog’s eye” to a bunch of impressionable 13-year olds.

Good times.

Anyway, I was in the middle of class when I heard the principal’s voice over my intercom: “Mr. Shoemaker, you’re needed in the high school office immediately.” I responded, “Sure, let me get someone to cover my class and I’ll . . .”  At that point I was interrupted. “Never mind that, just get over here right away.”


I immediately walked/jogged to the office, mind racing as I went. What the hell had I done? Was it taking the kids to the roof for that lesson last week (don’t ask)? Was it discussing evolution? Was it letting  that kid walk over to the Kahlua Cream to grab me a milkshake the other afternoon? Since I usually did 2-3 things a week that could be considered controversial, the possibilities were endless. Alas, when I arrived at the office my fears were allayed.

I walked in the door, and in the corner stood Joe, a high school kid who had been in a lot of trouble, mostly involving physical altercations. Joe was sort of in a crouched position, looking around wildly, waiting to pounce on the first person brave enough to approach him. Watching him was my principal and the high school football coach, who had also apparently been called in as an enforcer along with yours truly. At this point my principal looks at me, grinning, and says,”Mr. Shoemaker, Joe here took a swing at Mrs. Blipnoid (not her real name) and he’s refusing to take his whoopin’.”

Keep in mind these were the days when paddling, or corporal punishment as it was called, was commonplace. Joe then demanded to speak to his father, but my principal had other ideas. He said, “Tell you what. I’ll call Charlie myself.”

My principal knew every single person in town, I kid you not. He then proceeded to call Joe’s dad, explains the situation, listens, and hangs up the phone. He then looks at Joe, grins maniacally and says, “Looks like the whoopin’s a go, Joe.”

At that point Joe knows the deal and decides to go for broke. He leaps over the desk and makes a break for the door, except I was in front of the door. Before he runs me over the football coach steps over and sort of blindsides the kid (using perfect form tackle I might add) and takes him down in one fell swoop. As this is happening the principal clears everything off his desk with one sweep of his giant paddle. The football coach and I then body slam Joe facedown on the desk. The principal actually proceeds to paddle Joe by raising the board over his head, swinging straight down, while using both hands. If I recall it was 4-whacks give or take a whack.  We then let Joe up, he apologized, shook our hands, and went back to class. No suspension, in-school restriction, Saturday school, nothing.

Problem solved.

If it happened today we’d all be on 60-Minutes trying to explain ourselves. Back then? Just another day at Greenfield McClain.

Hey, I told you it was a different time.