Archive for the ‘Memories’ Category

I’ve posted ads from the past in the past, and they are sometimes usually always well received. If you like this blog and want to check the others out, click here:

These Old Timey Ads Are Well Intentioned, Hilariously Inappropriate

Old Timey Ads Part 2: When Sexism Was Rampant

Good stuff, and you shall laugh uproariously upon reading them. Anywho, that brings us to my latest installment, which brings us ads just as inappropriate and cringe-worthy as the others. Let us begin . . .

[click on the first photo and scroll for the captions]

 

Advertisements

Check it out, man. That toy gun would put your eye out in a millisecond. Think anybody complained? Hells to the nah. If I would’ve gotten blasted in the eyehole by that thing Dad would’ve yelled at me for not ducking sooner, then punched me in the shoulder so hard my ankles would’ve gone numb. Back in my day men were men and toys could literally kill you.

PS- How did I miss this thing as a kid? I would have struck terror in the hearts of my sisters, man.


One of my former students recently asked me how many concerts I had seen in my lifetime, and I told them I had no idea but it had to be over a hundred. I LOVE live music and always have, and I’ve been going to shows for approximately 45-years. Anyway, because I was asked I have attempted to recall all the shows I’ve seen, and believe me when I say there is no way I’ll remember them all. Because of this you can bet this blog will be updated often as the memories come flooding back or somebody reminds me of something I forgot. With all this in mind, let me begin. I’ll list the concerts along with notes on some of them, and they will be in somewhat of a chronological order but not really. An asterisk indicates a Rock Hall of Fame inductee, and I believe I’ve seen 25 bands/artists that have earned that honor. That said, I’ve also seen some shows that might surprise you. Let us begin . . .

Redbone

1974, Kings Island Senior Night. They were Native Americans, they wore full Native American regalia, and their big hit was “Come and Get Your Love.” I was front row and I was forever turned on to live music. Who could not be after seeing this?

Note: I have no idea if that’s politically correct or not, I just know it’s a great song.

Brownsville Station

These cool cats sang the original “Smokin’ in the Boys Room” and followed Redbone. I’ll never forget singer Cub Coda’s roaring vocals and drummer Henry “H-Bomb” Weck destroying the skins. Epic.

Seals & Crofts

Thanks to my Uncle Myrl we always had great seats at the Ohio State Fair. Hence the front row seats for the band that gave us “Summer Breeze” and “Diamond Girl.” It was a very good show.

The Stylistics

Believe it or not I saw this legendary R&B group at the Ross County Fairgrounds. Who booked them there I do not know, but it was the early to mid-70s so they were in their heyday.

Joe and Steven.

Aerosmith*

Ah, the famous (well, at least to me) Aerosmith concert. You know, the one where I drank Stroh’s beer with Joe Perry and Steven Tyler? That one? Yeah, I used to have a cool photo of me sitting between those rock Gods on a backstage couch, smiling broadly, luxurious locks cascading down our backs. Sorry, I got lost in the mists of time there for a second. Anyway, here’s the link: Steven, Joe and Me: Meeting Aerosmith. Read it. I would but it would make me cry again.

Note: I looked it up. It was March 24th, 1978 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Columbus.

Allman Brothers Band*

I saw these guys at an outdoor venue somewhere over near Zanesville. I don’t think it was Legend Valley, but I could be wrong. Anyway, they were as good as you might expect Southern Rock legends to be.

The Beach Boys* (6)

I’ve seen The Boys six times at various venues, including the big return of Brian Wilson sometime around 1977. They’re always a good show. Oh, and remember the time Mike Love tried to steal my girlfriend? If not, here’s the story: In the late 70’s I went to see them, again at Riverfront Coliseum in The Natti. We were once again right down front. From the get-go Mike Love was paying special attention to my date, at one point getting down on one knee and singing a song right up in her grillmix. I don’t remember the song, probably because I was too busy watching the security dude and figuring my odds of getting a shot at Love’s nose. Eventually Love actually sent a guy down to ask if she was interested. She said no and he never came close to us the rest of the show. Bizarre experience.

Chicago* (3)

Damn you to hell Cetera.

Chicago was always a good show, especially when they rocked and before they started with all the sappy ballads in the early 80s. The most memorable show was when Peter Cetera nearly stole my date. Yep, it happened again, and this show and The Beach Boys show were only a couple weeks apart. I guess I should look at the bright side and assume I had good taste in women? Anyway, here’s a link to the whole sordid affair: How Peter Cetera Once Ruined a Relationship. Mine.

Warren Zevon

I saw the legend back in early ’79 when I was living on West 8th Avenue, just south of The Ohio State University campus. I distinctly recall sitting at a table in the since demolished Serene Lounge, a misnamed establishment if there ever was one. As I sat there enjoying Happy Hour, a buddy came rushing in and said he had tickets to a show up the street at The Agora, which is now The Newport. Of course I asked who was playing, and he told me Warren Zevon. Being the sophisticated music aficionado that I was, I immediately jumped at the chance. O.K., truth be told I’d never heard of Warren Zevon. Seems I’d missed the whole “Werewolves of London” hoopla from a few months prior. Go figure. Long story short, I went, was blown away and became a huge fan.

Note. It’s odd but one clear memory I have of that night was Zevon mentioning that his dad was named Stumpy. That’s a cool dad name, don’t you think? Anyway, one of my big regrets (among many) is the fact that I never saw Warren Zevon live again.

Steely Dan

I think I saw these guys at St. John Arena, but I’ll be damned if I can remember exactly. Anyway, it was the late 70s, a period my loving father used to refer to as “my hazy period.”

The New York Dolls

Believe it or not I actually saw these punk legends at the Fairgrounds Coliseum where they opened for The Babys and, wait for it . . . REO Speedwagon. To say I’d never seen anything like them (spiked collars, high heels, multi-colored hair, hot pants) is an understatement. I’m pretty sure I stood there, mouth agape, during their entire show.

Steppenwolf

These rock legends actually performed at Sam’s Place, a big barn-type venue south on Chillicothe on Route 23. I believe the building is still there. Anyway, they rocked out “Born to Be Wild” and “Magic Carpet Ride” right here in good ol’ Ross County USA.

The Babys

The Babys followed the New York Dolls, and although “Isn’t It Time” and “Every Time I Think of You” are great songs, following the Dolls was a tough gig ( not to mention everyone was there to see REO).

REO Speedwagon

I feel like I’ve seen REO more than once, but perhaps not. Anyway, it was a rockin’ show. I remember they closed with “Ridin’ the Storm Out.”

Electric Light Orchestra

Electric Light Orchestra* (12)

Yep, I’ve seen ELO 12-times at least, and every single show was a joy, a revelation and an absolute rock spectacle. Hey, who doesn’t like lasers, giant spaceships and giant butterflies and moths fluttering above the audience? I know I do. Seriously, Jeff Lynne is a musical genius and a rock legend, and I shall see him again in less than a month. However, the most memorable ELO show was the night I found myself in the middle of a Jeff Lynne/ELO scenario of which I wanted no part of. To fully understand, read this: Pimping for the Electric Light Orchestra.

Roxy Music

I saw Roxy Music open for ELO at Veterans Memorial in 1975, and Bryan Ferry did not disappoint, singing “Love Is The Drug” and others in all his Glam Rock glory.

Gentle Giant

Saw this Prog Rock band open for ELO in The Natti, circa 1977.

Steve Hillage

Hillage was a guitarist of note back in the 70s.

Rick Derringer (3)

I first saw Derringer on the “Frampton Comes Alive” tour at the Tangerine Bowl in Florida. There were several bands before Frampton, and one of them was Kansas. They came out and it was clear from the get-go they were tanked. Just smashed, drunk and/or high as hell. Midway through song two or three they just turned and walked off the stage. The crowd basically rioted until something pretty cool happened. Rick Derringer, who had played a short set earlier, returned to the stage and started playing. Slowly the crowd got into it and eventually he was actually playing requests. That’s a true pro right there, and he saved everyone from a potentially nasty situation. When Frampton finally came out he thanked Derringer profusely and even called him back out for an encore. I’ll always have fond memories of Rick Derringer because of that day.

Led Zeppelin*

Led Zeppelin

At some point a bit before The Who tragedy at Riverfront Coliseum (again, my dates are a little fuzzy) I saw Led Zeppelin there. The whole festival seating/general admission thing was in place, and it was pretty ugly. We got there real early to get in line. The coliseum’s policy at the time was to open just 4-doors at around 6:30 PM (again, hazy) for the 8:00 show. We were right up front, and a little after 5:00 PM things began to get ugly. Remember, 4-doors for 12,000+ people. Idiocy. People in the back began pressing forward and those of us in front were getting crushed against the doors. Guys were begging the security inside to open up, but they weren’t listening. A police chopper suddenly appeared and began hovering about 30-feet up, and a guy with a bullhorn was telling people to back up. Nobody was having it, and at one point I remember a beer bottle being thrown at the chopper and shattering off its side. By this time I was seriously in fear of not making it out of there. My arms were pressed against my sides so tightly that I couldn’t raise them. Occasionally my feet would rise off the ground and I’d have to completely go wherever the crowd took me. Scary stuff for sure. The worst part was when the crowd would start to lean and you feared getting crushed. It was hard to breathe and several people passed out but obviously didn’t fall down. Surreal as hell. Finally, an ignorant security guard did a dumb but ultimately good thing – he cracked a door open, ostensibly to tell somebody when the gates would open. At that point the door was ripped open and the crowd poured in. Glass was flying everywhere, and as I was being pushed through a guard reached out and ripped a flask from my neck, nearly slashing my throat. No tickets were taken and chaos ensued. After I got away from the rushing crowd, I sought out a cop and yelled, “If these people don’t start opening more doors somebody’s going to get killed here!” A prophetic statement, unfortunately. When the news came down months later that 11-people were killed at The Who show, I wasn’t surprised. I knew exactly what had taken place. Oh, and by the way, I scored a front row spot. Hey, it was Zep.

The Eagles, 1977

The Eagles* (3)

I first saw The Eagles during their Hotel California Tour, and I remember the big album cover backdrop. Joe Walsh had just joined the group and he was on fire. Great show. As a bonus, no band member tried to pick up my girlfriend.

Todd Rundgren (4)

I’ve seen the greatest rocker never to be inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame four times, and every single time he has been amazing. Just a multi-talented musician and performer.

Elton John*

I was lucky enough to see Elton at the peak of his powers, during the legendary Yellow Brick Road Tour. I can’t recall who opened for him but I do remember Kiki Dee coming on stage for the song, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”. I also remember that we had seats w-a-y at the back of the arena, near the top. At one point Elton stopped to thank his writing partner Bernie Taupin and pointed him out in the crowd. They shone a spotlight on him, and he was sitting right behind me. I asked him why he was sitting in the cheap seats and he said he liked to hear what the acoustics were like from up there. Cool.

Marshall Tucker Band

No clue where this concert took place. Kentucky perhaps. Rupp Arena? I’ve no clue but it was during the “Heard It In A Love Song/Can’t You See” era. What can I say? I fell into the Urban Cowboy country rock phase for a minute.

Cheap Trick

Cheap Trick*

This one was at St. John Arena in Columbus and I recall that it was on the same Monday night that Marquette won the NCAA Basketball Title. 1977 perhaps? Let me check. Hold on . . . . . . . yep, March 28th, 1977. 67-59 over Dean Smith and North Carolina. Al McGuire’s last game. Anyway, at one point some kid from Zane Trace threw his ZT hat on stage and Rick Neilson put it on and wore it for the rest of the show. Wild night. Can’t remember who opened.

Rush*

Went with a buddy who was a huge Rush guy, I believe it was in Dayton at Hara Arena. On a related note, Rush people are an interesting group.

Edgar Winter Group

“Frankenstein” baby! EWG rocks, man. Saw them at an outdoor show somewhere in Columbus. It was in a big parking lot and was sponsored by QFM-96. I think.

Joe Walsh

I saw Joe just before he joined The Eagles, just after he released his “But Seriously, Folks . . .” album. Dude was really good with the crowd, and of course his guitar playing was amazing.

Kansas

I told you about Kansas when I talked about Rick Derringer earlier. They sucked.

Peter Frampton (3)

Peter Frampton

I was a big Frampton fan back in the day, and myself and 3 friends followed him on his “Frampton Comes Alive” Tour. We saw him in Tampa, Louisville and back in Ohio. He was touring with the aforementioned Kansas, Rick Derringer and the J Geils Band. Trust me, Peter Frampton put on one hell of a show.

John Sebastian*

John Sebastian was the frontman for the Lovin’ Spoonful before embarking on a solo career. He didn’t have much success until he penned the theme song for the TV show “Welcome Back Kotter”. Anyway, I saw him as the opening act for, wait for it . . . Steve Martin. The show was at Mershon Auditorium in, I believe, the Spring of ’77 or ’78.

J Geils Band (2)

Saw these guys during the Frampton tour, and one thing sticks out in my mind. Their Louisville show was the last show of the tour and lead singer Peter Wolf busted out the champagne. As usual we’d worked our way down to the front row, and Wolf poured a good portion of the bottle right over my head before I tilted my head back and drank the rest. Good times indeed.

John Waite

Waite was the lead singer of The Babys before starting a solo career. I saw him at a small venue in Columbus (The Newport?) and he was really good. Remember “Missing You”?

Wild Cherry

Yep, I saw these guys sing “Play That Funky Music” in a small bar on High Street in Columbus j-u-s-t before they hit it big.

Barry Manilow

I told you some of the artists would surprise you. I went with my sister and her husband Jigger, and it was a really good show. Vets Memorial I believe.

Doobie Brothers

Thankfully I saw The Doobies before Michael McDonald arrived to wreck their sound with his so-called “blue-eyed soul”. Newsflash: It was not. I preferred the pre-McDonald days of “China Grove”, “Long Train Runnin'” and “Blackwater”. It was a fantastic show that I saw somewhere in Cleveland.

James Taylor* (5)

James Taylor

Ah, the original JT. I’ve seen him at least 5-times, the most memorable being the night I stole his jacket. From my original blog: I went to see him at Blossom Music Center back in ’78 with my friends Tom and Chris. After the show we ambled down to the side of the stage, just getting a look at the setup really. The roadies were tearing down the set, wandering around doing this and that. At some point I looked up and said, “Hey, look. He left his jacket hanging on the mike stand.” He’d worn it onstage and had taken it off during the show. Anyway, one of us (probably Tom) gets the bright idea to try to grab it. Nice plan but the place was crawling with security and roadies. I turn to Chris for ideas, turn back around, and Tom had already jumped the railing and was halfway across the stage. He was just casually walking like he belonged there. A couple of guys glanced at him but didn’t say a word, either because he looked like he belonged or because he was 6′-3″, 280-lbs and looked like he could rip your heart out and show it to you before you died (which by the way he could have but that’s another story). He casually grabs the jacket, throws it over his shoulder, and hops off the other side of the stage as Chris and I run frantically around to meet him. We walk away without looking back, expecting at any moment to hear, “Stop them! Thieves! They have James Taylor’s jacket! For God’s sake stop the bastards!” Except it doesn’t happen, and we make it to the car. At that point Tom tries it on. Obviously too small. Chris grabs it. Too big. Heh-heh. Fit me perfectly. Apparently, in ’78, James Taylor and I were exactly the same size. Anyway, that’s how I came to own James Taylor’s jacket. By the way, later I woke up wide-eyed in the middle of the night, realizing I hadn’t checked the pockets. The possibilities were mind-boggling. Carly Simon’s phone number possibly? Alas, nothing. Damn . . .

Charlie Daniels Band

Again, this was during my country rock phase, which lasted about, oh, a minute and a half. Charlie was cool back then though, although I felt that way partly because I wasn’t aware of the right-wing conservative assclownery he’s exhibited the last 20-years or so.

Blue Oyster Cult

Dayton, Ohio, in Hara Arena. At the end of the concert the drummer threw his sticks into the crowd. I got my hand on one but it slipped through my fingers, damn it.

Yes*

I was never a big Yes fan, but I attended this show with a friend. As I recall I wasn’t that impressed.

Emerson, Lake & Palmer

See Yes above.

Grand Funk

Grand Funk Railroad

I watched Mark Farner, Don Brewer and the boys at St. John Arena in Columbus and they were great. I distinctly recall them blowing the roof off the joint with “We’re An American Band”. I think Farner found Jesus shortly after this tour.

Amy Grant

Another shocker, amirite? Yep, I saw Amy at the Ohio State Fair and once again we were right up front. My girlfriend at the time loved her, hence my presence at the show.

Hall & Oates*

Talk about a great opening act. I saw these guys open for ELO in Cleveland at Richfield Coliseum. Of course, they were incredible.

Pat Benatar

Yep. Big Pat Benatar fan, man. Saw her in Riverfront Coliseum back around ’82 ish. I remember being impressed with her lead guitarist and future husband Neil Geraldo too. Dude could shred.

Alabama

Another Ohio State Fair show where I couldn’t turn down the tickets. Hey, it was the early 80s and the band was pretty damn big.

Barbara Mandrell

Same as the Alabama show with one big difference – Barbara Mandrell was smokin’ hot at the time.

Kenny Rogers

You’ll have to give me a break on this one. My mother was a big Kenny Rogers fan and I took her as a surprise for her birthday. She loved it. I’m such a good son.

The Alarm

The Alarm

This show was actually a surprise for me pulled off by my ex-wife Twana, and it was spectacular. I loved The Alarm (still do) and their show at Riverbend in Cincy was great. However, they were just the opening act for the big surprise, which was . . . drumroll please . . .

Bob Dylan*

It was 1988 and like I said, this was a surprise gift for me. Dylan was amazing as you might expect, putting on an unforgettable show.

Pink Floyd*

In June of 1975 I traveled to Pittsburgh to see Pink Floyd at Three Rivers Stadium, and they were insanely good. Obviously this was when Roger Waters was still with them, contrary to the American tour 20-years later when they were without him and I refused to attend. To me, the best part of Floyd was Roger Waters. Anywho, great show with flyin’ pigs and whatnot.

Meat Loaf

I saw The Loaf at a small venue near Lancaster in the mid-80s. This was after his success with Bat Out of Hell in the late 70s and before his big comeback in ’93, and he was in the middle of his well publicized emotional issues. At one point during the show he stopped mid-song and helicoptered his mic stand into the crowd, nearly decapitating myself and several others. It was like “Meat Loaf! YEAH! Woohoo! Wait . . . look out!” Fortunately he got it together and finished, but I remember his voice was freakin’ shot. Let’s just say Meat did not bring his A game that night.

Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney* (9)

Yes, I have seen Sir Paul many times at many venues in cities ranging from Cincinnati to Indianapolis to Cleveland to Chicago. Perhaps my favorite show was the one in Columbus where a bunch of us went all out rented a suite. Our seats were right over the stage. Also, one year in Cincy I was in the front 8-10 rows which was incredible. With McCartney every song is legendary, plus there’s always that awareness that you’re watching a freakin’ Beatle.

Dan Fogelberg (4)

Fogelberg was always great live, and I saw him at Blossom in Cleveland, The Palace in Columbus and a couple other places.

Indigo Girls

I’d never heard of the Indigo Girls when  first saw them open for R.E.M. at Riverfront Coliseum, but it didn’t take a genius to figure out they were going to be big.

R.E.M.* (15)

I’ve seen R.E.M. more than any other band, first in ’83 at a gym in Springfield, Ohio in front of maybe 100-people, and the last time at Blossom in Cleveland in ’04 along with 20,000 other fans. It was pretty cool watching them grow from a small, relatively unknown band to a worldwide sensation. R.E.M. trails only The Beatles on my favorite bands list.

The Minutemen

I saw these alt legends open for R.E.M. at Vets Memorial a couple weeks before lead singer D. Boon was killed in an auto accident. Memorable concert for sure.

The O’Jays*

Ok, technically I never bought a ticket to watch these guys. However, I did hear them sing along with me on an airplane. Not kidding. Here’s the story: It happened when my late friend Jigger and I were heading to Vegas back in the early ’90s. You’ve got to remember that I’ve always been quite the Motown/Philly Sound fan and am pretty knowledgeable about a lot of the groups of that genre. We’d been in the air for a few minutes when I thought I recognized a guy a couple of rows in front of me. Was that Eddie Levert of The O’Jays? I loved The O’Jays! What the hell, I thought. I went up and sat by him (keep in mind there were only about 30-people on the plane). Sure enough, it was Levert and the rest of the group along with about eight roadies sitting here and there. Throwing caution and common sense to the wind, I started singing one of their big hits, “Love Train” and begging the guys to join in. What can I say? I was overcome with joy at meeting the O’Jays and I was pretty sure I’d never have this chance again. Long story short, in a couple minutes all three O’Jays were singing backup to yours truly on lead vocal. One of the guys (Walter Williams possibly) actually got up in the aisle and was doing the dance moves as I stood and sang beside him. Surreal. About halfway through I forgot the words and Levert took over. I then attempted to join the dancing but failed miserably, to the delight of the audience. I then took a theatrical bow with the group as the crowd went wild (at least in my mind, don’t tell me they didn’t), the stewardesses applauded and Jigger sat there shaking his head. I believe I even followed up by trying to start a rousing rendition of “Backstabbers” but my moment had passed. The group got off at our stopover in Minneapolis, bro hugs were shared all around, and the O’Jays went on their way. And you know what? To this day I can’t hear “Love Train” without getting a big grin on my face.

Fetchin Bones

The Bones opened for REM at Bogart’s and they were great. One reviewer described them as such: “a band that must be seen live for a full grasp of their eclectic frenzy.” Couldn’t have said it better.

The dB’s

These guys opened for REM in Dayton, at either Hara or UD Arena (I can’t remember which). The band was led by Pete Holsapple, who later sat in on many an REM gig.

The Neats

The Neats opened for REM at that show in Springfield, Ohio.

Toad the Wet Sprocket

I saw TTWS at The Newport sometime in the mid-90s. Can’t remember much about the show other than the fact that lead singer Todd Phillips didn’t wear any shoes.

Matthew Sweet

Ah, another great Newport show. I’ve loved Matthew Sweet since 1991 and he did not disappoint.

Hootie & the Blowfish

Once again I saw these guys at The Newport, just before they blew wide open. I remember Darius Rucker downed about 8 Budweiser bottles during the show, and he often had one in his hand as he sang.

The String Cheese Incident

I’m not really into Jam Bands, and I have no idea what inspired me to go to this show. Now that I think of it, I have no idea who I was with or where they played. Somewhere outside for sure.

Screaming Trees

Screaming Trees

The Trees were the middle act at College Park, MD in 1992. They followed Gruntruck and preceded Alice in Chains. Of those three bands, I loved the Screaming Trees the most. The show was at Ritchie Coliseum as I recall.

 

Alice in Chains

See above.

Gruntruck

Also see above.

Fugazi

Great show at the tiny City Lights venue in Indy back in 1993. I remember clearly that the tickets cost a mere $5.00.

The National

The National opened for REM at Blossom in 2004.

Brian Wilson

I was thrilled to see Brian Wilson during his Pet Sounds Tour in 2002. His backing band was the Wondermints and they were fantastic too. He played the album in its entirety, start to finish. Stellar, and the work of a musical genius.

Steve Forbert (3)

I put Steve Forbert in my Top 10 All-Time favorite artists. I’ve seen him at small venues in Newport, KY, and Granville and Worthington in Ohio. He always puts on a great show. One of music’s most underappreciated talents.

Faith No More

Caught these guys at The Newport (surprise!) in September of 1992. The main thing I remember is that lead singer Mike Patton had some absolutely killer pipes.

Helmet

I have very little recollection of this one. Sorry Helmet.

The Temptations*

I finally got to see The Temps around 2008, and they only had one original member remaining. Still a great show though.

Ziggy Marley

Ziggy Marley

I can attribute this one to pure luck. One night in the Caribbean I was sitting at a little Tiki Bar, and a guy came up and casually mentioned that Ziggy was playing a couple hundred yards down the beach. Wait. What? Hell yes mon. I hustled down there and the rest is history.

They Might Be Giants (8)

Man, I’ve seen the two John’s 8 times since 1992 (the last this past winter) and every show has been awesome. One of my favorite bands ever.

OK GO

This group opened for TMBG the night the electric went out at The Newport and everything was delayed a couple hours. They were great, but my main memory was after the show when the lead singer tried to pick up my nephew’s wife out by the merch stand. Musicians, man.

The Eels

Eels (7)

I’ve seen E and the boys on several occasions, usually in Columbus but at least once in Cleveland. Big, big fan and E never, ever fails to entertain. I’ve been on E’s bandwagon since his early solo albums “A Man Called E” and “Broken Toy Shop”.

The Flaming Lips 

Love the lips, and I saw them at the Nelsonville Music Festival a few years ago. And yes, Wayne Coyne got in one of those big bubbles and walked out over the audience. Fun aplenty.

Beck

I used to volunteer for a company that worked concerts around Columbus (actually I only did it twice) but on one occasion I ended up being Beck’s damn backstage bodyguard. He actually invited me to stand beside the stage and watch the show. Dude really liked me for some reason, man. You can read all about it here: Bodyguarding Beck. True story.

Martina McBride

I must have received good reviews for being Beck’s bodyguard, because a couple weeks later they asked me to be the bodyguard for Martina McBride. Once again I was allowed to watch from the wings. Hey, I’ve never owned a Martina McBride song but damn she was a hottie. Anyway, I protected two famous singers and neither were harmed under my watch. My record is unblemished.

Carbon Leaf (7)

Carbon Leaf

I’ve been a big Carbon Leaf fan since around 2000, and I’ve become acquainted with lead singer Barry Privett. I’ve seen them at Kelley’s in the Outer Banks, The Basement and a few other places in Columbus, a little bar in Chapel Hill, the Southgate House in Newport, KY and The 20th Century Theater in Cincy among other places. I highly recommend this band.

The Wallflowers

I have no earthly idea where I saw these guys. Maybe the old Capital Theater on High Street in Columbus?

Paul Westerberg

I’d waited many a year to see the former Replacements frontman in person, and it was one helluva show. It was at The Newport, which was perfect, and one of my friends said it was the first time he’d actually seen a real life rock star. Westerberg growled/wailed his tunes in black jeans, boots and a leather jacket, all the while smoking a cigarette and barking at the occasional roadie. At one point he played while laying on his back, and he added covers like “If I Had a Hammer” and “Daydream Believer” along with his solo stuff and some Replacement classics. Just an amazing, powerful performance from a rock legend that I’ve admired for years. I’ll never forget it.

Ben Folds (4)

Ben always puts on a great show, and the interaction with his fans is incredible. I last saw him in the fall of last year and he hadn’t lost a step.

Billy Bragg

This show was at Mountain Stage, West Virginia, and was actually broadcast live on National Public Radio. For some reason I remember Billy telling the audience that on the way to the show his bus had passed a little town with an interesting name – Bragg. Weird the stuff you remember.

MC Honky

MC Honky was actually Mark Oliver Everett, otherwise known as E of the Eels. He opened for, you guessed it, The Eels. Strange but interesting night.

Taylor Swift

Yep, I saw her at OU-Chillicothe at the very beginning of her career back in 2007, performing before maybe 2500 people. She’d only had a couple hits at that time, and I remember she stood at the back of the gym after the show until she’d signed every single fan’s autograph. There was no dancing or anything like that, she basically just sat on a stool and played her songs solo.

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band*

Quite simply one of the best live performers to have ever lived. There was no big light show, no video screens, no theatrics. Just Bruce and the band playing straight ahead rock and roll. I saw The Boss at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, and it was unforgettable.

Buddy Guy*

Buddy opened for Clapton at The Schott in the late 00s, and he was spectacular.

Bon Jovi* (4)

An ex of mine had a deep, unapologetic love for Jon Bon Jovi, hence the many trips to see the band. They’re crazy good live, and the trips were worth it to me to watch Richie Sambora play guitar. All the shows were at large arenas.

Goo Goo Dolls

I saw the Goos in their heyday, which was sometime around 1998-1999. according to my internal heyday meter. I must say Johnny Rzeznik and the boys were pretty damn good. I cannot recall where I saw them.

Cracker (3)

Love me some Cracker, and I’ve seen them at Kelley’s in the OBX, the Southgate House in northern Kentucky, and the Picktown Palooza (yes, such a thing exists). I’ve had the pleasure to meet guitarist Johnny Hickman a few times and am happy to report that he’s a good dude.

Green Day*

I took my son to see these guys at The Schott in Columbus as part of my Expose My Kid to The Legends Project (he’s seen McCartney, R.E.M., AC/DC, The Eels, and several others) and they were just about what you’d expect. Those little dudes are like Energizer Bunnies, man. It was their American Idiot Tour I believe.

AC/DC*

AC/DC

Tremendous show at The Schott, and for some reason I was pleasantly surprised at how good of a guitarist Angus Young is. I should have known I guess? Anyway, there were more 50-year old boobs on display than I care to recall.

Eric Clapton*

Saw Slowhand at Nationwide Arena, and it was something to behold. See, even though the show was 2 1/2 hours long Clapton didn’t play that many songs. All the tunes were a long, bluesy numbers and every one was breathtakingly good. Although a few morons were yelling for them there was no “I Shot the Sheriff” or “Tears in Heaven.” To top off the greatness of the show, Derek Trucks was a part of the band and Robert Cray came out to jam during the last 30-minutes or so. Legendary.

Robert Cray 

See Eric Clapton above.

Angels & Airwaves

A & A is led by Blink-182’s Tom Delonge, and I went to The Newport with my son to see the band in the mid-00s. Kip wanted to get down front, so we worked our way down to the right front of the stage with yours truly against a railing. Suffice to say the mosh pit was deadly, my ribs were crushed repeatedly against the railing, and I could barely get out of bed the next day. Hey, you have to sacrifice for family. On a related note, it was totally worth it.

The Color Fred

These guys opened for A & A and I have very little recollection as to whether they were any good.

Fuel

I caught Fuel at a small venue in Columbus, but I can’t remember the exact location. Interesting crowd at Fuel shows.

The Smithereens

I saw these guys at the Roanoke Island Festival Park in Manteo, NC as part of a big summer show with 4 other acts. I’ve always loved The Smithereens and they did not fail me.

Scars on 45

Scars on 45 are English band that was a part of the Mateo show. They impressed me.

Gin Blossoms (3)

I’ve seen these guys at the Manteo Festival, Summerfest and Bogey’s in Dublin, OH.

Spin Doctors

Another band at the Manteo concert, and believe me when I say they still have it.

Joan Jett*

Joan headlined the big Manteo show and she was stunningly good. On a related note, the Roanoke Festival Park is a stunning venue with the backdrop to the stage being the Roanoke Sound. Beautiful.

Social Distortion’s Mike Ness

Social Distortion

After years of trying I finally got to see Mike Ness and Social D at what was then LC Pavilion in Columbus a few years ago. They were everything I expected them to be.

Mudhoney

My buddy Goose and I caught the legendary grunge rockers at tiny Café Bourbon Street in Columbus in 2010. Lead singer Mark Arm, the man who coined the term “grunge”, was in top form. I felt lucky to have seen them, and Arm gave me the setlist. Boom.

Manchester Orchestra

This band opened for My Chemical Romance and Blink-182 in Cincinnati. My only recollection is that they had a lush, orchestral sound, hence their name choice I guess.

My Chemical Romance (2)

I’ve seen MCR twice, once opening for Green Day in Columbus and once for Blink-182 in Cincinnati. On both occasions they were very good, and it turned out that the Cincy tour was their last.

Blink-182

Blink-182

My son was a big Blink guy and this show was pretty special. I recall sitting in the parking lot waiting for the rain to stop, and when it did we debated whether to make a run for the gates. We decided in the affirmative, and when we were exactly halfway to our destination the torrential downpour began anew. We were drenched for the entire show. I also remember that the banter between Tom Delonge and Mark Hoppes was hilarious. Really good show.

Band of Horses

Saw Band of Horse open for My Morning Jacket a few years ago and I thought they were fantastic. I actually enjoyed them more than the headliner.

My Morning Jacket

I don’t know, there’s something about these guys that’s sort of monotonous to me. Can’t say I loved it.

Bowling for Soup

A couple years ago I went to see Bowling for Soup at the A&R in Columbus. The show was at 7:00, but as I am want to do I went up around 4:00 to scout out the terrain. I could hear the band doing a soundcheck inside, and there was a line of probably 150 people sitting outside the door and down the sidewalk. I thought what the hell, I’ll take a shot at this. I walked past all the people, up to the door, and as luck would have it the door was open. I walked in, nodded at a few security guys in A&R polos, and sauntered on to the front of the stage and watched the guys warm up. After a bit I walked to the back of the venue and was leaning against the wall when I was approached by a very large dude. I was expecting the worst, but the guy said, “Hey, have you seen Greg?” I looked around as if I knew who the hell Greg was, then told him, “No, not recently.” He then thanked me and gave me a knuckle-bump before departing. Crisis averted. Then, a short while later I swear this happened: The band stopped and the lead singer looked straight at me and asked, “Whaddaya think? Is that enough bass?” The world stopped for a second as the entire band and everyone in the venue looked at me. I nodded knowingly and gave the thumbs-up sign as the bass player shot me a return thumbs-up before kicking into another tune. At that point I had cred with the entire place so I could basically do whatever I wanted. What can I say? The secret is acting like you belong. Bottom line, I saw the soundcheck and the show, and both were great.

Bacon Brothers

I was invited to this show at an outdoor mall somewhere in Dayton, and I have to say Kevin Bacon and his brother were pretty good. Somebody opened but I can’t recall the band name.

Lit

I saw Lit along with the Gin Blossoms and the next three bands during the Summerland Tour a few years back. Lit was excellent, Gin Blossoms were very good, Marcy Playground was Ok, Sugar Ray was surprisingly amazing and Everclear was disappointing.

Sugar Ray

See Lit.

Marcy Playground

See Lit.

Everclear

See Lit.

The Hold Steady

The Hold Steady

Caught these guys in Cincy at Bogart’s (I think). They were excellent. Really underrated band in my opinion.

Nathanael Rateliff & the Night Sweats (2)

Saw their show at the Nelsonville Music Festival a couple years back and they were great. They also opened for Kings of Leon last summer.

Sister Hazel

Urban Meyer’s favorite band played Bogey’s in Dublin/Muirfield a couple years ago along with the Gin Blossoms. And yes, Urb and Shelley were in attendance.

Soul Asylum

For the life of me I cannot recall where I saw Soul Asylum, but I remember it being a grungy little bar type of establishment. Go figure. It was towards the beginning of their success.

Kings of Leon

Attended a KOL show at Riverbend in Cincinnati last summer. Great band, great show.

Guided by Voices

One of my friends is a big fan so I went with him to see his hero Robert Pollard. I’m glad I went.

Tedeschi Trucks Band

Amazing band I saw during their Wheels of Soul Tour back in 2015 at the PNC Pavilion in The Natti. They’re unbelievable live.

Avett Brothers (7)

The Avett Brothers

I first laid ears on The Avetts around ’05 in the Outer Banks, and have since seen them in Raleigh, NC, The Louisville Palace in KY, and several other venues in Ohio. One of my favorite live bands currently.

Tall Heights

I saw this band open for Ben Folds last fall. Cool sound.

Todd Snider

Todd is one of my friend’s favorite artists, and I must say I enjoyed the show. I think we saw him in Cincinnati. I think. UPDATE: I checked. It was at the Madison Theater in Cincy.

The Pixies (2)

The Pixies were on my Bucket List, and thankfully I’ve seen them twice in the last year or so. The first was at Express Live! in Columbus and the second at an amazing show I’ll talk about shortly. Just a legendary, influential alternative band.

John Hiatt

I love John Hiatt and I finally got to see him a couple years ago in Columbus. I think it was The Palace, and it was just John and his guitar. Incredible performance.

Rick Brantley

Opened for John Hiatt, and I remember his song “Hurt People” the most.

G-Love

G-Love opened for Jack Johnson and he was great. He came out later with Jack to sing “Rodeo Clowns” and it was amazing.

Jack Johnson

I was never a huge Jack Johnson fan but he won me over a few weeks ago at Riverbend in Cincinnati. It was a laid back, mellow show with a tremendous vibe.

Foo Fighters

Foo Fighters (2)

Ah, The Foos. I’ve seen them twice in the past 10-months and they blew me away. The first show was in Cincy at US Bank Arena (formerly Riverfront Coliseum) and just the other night at Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center in Noblesville, IN outside Indianapolis. The Indy show was special because we were 12-rows back. Incredible night. PS – Dave Grohl is a God.

The Struts (2)

The Struts are a Queen-influenced group fronted by a guy named Luke Spiller, who is fantastic. They opened for the Foo Fighters both times I saw them. High energy, rockin’ band.

The Wombats

I loved The Wombats back in the late 80s, and if you didn’t like “Let’s Dance to the Joy Division” you are a phony, a pretender, and you have the musical taste of a ferret. I finally saw them a couple weeks ago as the opener for The Pixies and then Weezer, and as expected they killed it.

Weezer

Weezer

To be honest I went to the Weezer show for opening acts The Wombats and The Pixies, but to my surprise Weezer blew the roof off at Riverbend. I mean, I knew they’d be good but they were way better than I expected. Incredible show that actually shocked me, and I don’t shock easily.

Jimmy Buffett (3)

I first saw Buffett in 1977, again in the late 80s, and finally a couple weeks ago in Cincinnati. Buffett shows are basically one big beach party, replete with leis, bikinis and margaritas, among other things [clears throat]. You get the picture.

And those are all the concerts I can ever remember attending, although I know I’m going to think of more. When I do I’ll update this blog. There were also a couple notable shows I missed, as well as some cool upcoming concerts I’m pumped about . . .

J-u-s-t Missed Shows:

The Who

Yep we had tickets to Riverfront Coliseum the night of the tragedy where 11-people were crushed to death, and we were actually on the way to the concert. Fortunately we were stupid enough to think a party in Chillicothe would be more fun, and it might have saved our lives. And yes, I know about a million people claim to have had tickets to that show. We actually did.

Lynyrd Skynyrd

I had tickets for a show at St. John’s Arena in Columbus on October 28th, 1978, but unfortunately we all know what happened 8-days prior – their plane crashed in Mississippi. I’ll never forget waking up the morning and my roommate Jed telling me what had happened. And, being the 21-year old jackass that I was, I returned my ticket because I thought I needed the $8.25 or whatever the hell the ticket cost back then, probably to buy beer.

Upcoming Shows:

Blackberry Smoke (Riverbend, Cincinnati)

ELO (Little Caesar’s Arena, Detroit)

Pearl Jam (Wrigley Field, Chicago)

Nathanael Rateliff & the Night Sweats (Express Live, Columbus)

Tedeschi Trucks Band (The Palace, Columbus)

Well, some of you. If you’re under 30 perhaps not. Anyway, many of us older folk can remember the way old supermarkets looked, as well as the old country, small town stores. What follows is a look back at a simpler time, 20 photographs along with my comments. Point, click and scroll. Do it man.

My sister Karen passed away one week ago, and it’s taken me awhile to even think about writing about her. The emotions are still raw and near the surface, and there’s just so much to say that I don’t know where to begin. Since I really have no idea where to start, I guess I’ll go back to the beginning . . .

My Mom and Dad had three children, starting with Karen, then Sara, then myself. I’ve always been really close with both of my sisters, and they’ve helped me out more times and in more ways than you can ever imagine. I love them both deeply. Today I will focus on Karen, who I’ve called Sis for as long as I can remember. I’m just going to write whatever thoughts come to mind, so stay with me . . .

Sis loved me unconditionally. She was my best friend, my secret-keeper, my confidante, my defender, my savior, my music sharer, my role model, my alter ego, and my rock. It didn’t matter what mistake I’d made or what trouble I’d gotten myself into, I knew I could go to her. Oh, she’d tell me if she thought I’d been an idiot or made a wrong decision, but I also knew that, no matter what, she would always love me. You could not find a better protector and defender than my sister Karen. She always had my back.

Sis’s emotions were always near the surface. She’d cry over anything. She’d cry while hearing a song, reading a book, or seeing a commercial on television.  I envied that, because she felt everything. Most of us sort of become hardened over time, jaded and a little immune to showing how we’re feeling, but not Sis. She had no problem showing us exactly how she was feeling, without embarrassment or regret. How many of us can say that?

Sis loved almost everybody. Oh, if you wronged me, another family member or a friend she could be your worst enemy, but she gave virtually everyone a chance. It’s an old cliché, but Sis never met a stranger. I remember being on Oak Island, a place we began visiting in 1978, and we’d just come back from dinner and were relaxing on the deck. Soon a couple walked up the steps, a man and woman I’d never seen before, and they were carrying a bottle of wine. Long story short Sis had walked up the beach earlier in the day, struck up a conversation with them, and ended up inviting them to our beach house. First off, who invites total strangers to your place while on vacation, and secondly, who shows up? That was the power of my sister’s personality.

And believe it or not, this happened several times over the years. Hell, I act like I’m on my phone to avoid people in the supermarket yet my sister made friends with total strangers wherever she went. Amazing.

As I said, Sis was always there for me. When my ex-wife and I split up in the early 00’s, the first person I told was Sis. Before you knew it I was living in the room over her garage, a place I remained for 6-months, and I knew I was welcome to stay longer. In addition, I wasn’t the first or last person to stay in that room. Sis welcomed more than a few people to stay there when they needed a helping hand.

Back in 1964 Sis did something that changed my life forever. I was on the couch in our living room, listening to music on one of those big stereo cabinets that were the size of a coffee table. I was playing an album by somebody, probably Bobby Vinton or Gene Pitney or somebody like that because it’s all we listened to at the time. Mom and Dad were big Al Martino and Dean Martin fans, so we had a few of those LPs in the collection too. Oh, we had some old Elvis records but mostly our home was a rock and roll free zone. But one day, in walks Sis . . .

She’d been to town shopping and immediately pulled the needle off the album that was playing, which annoyed the hell out of me. But before I could say anything, she shushed me and said, “Just listen.”

At that point the guitars kicked in, and the lyrics began: “Well she was just seventeen, if you know what I mean, and the way she looked, was way beyond compare . . .”

Yep, life as I previously knew it was over. Sis had dropped the needle on the album Introducing the Beatles, and I probably listened to it at least 1000 times in the months to follow. Sure, I probably would have discovered them anyway, but thanks to Sis I was clued in from the beginning.

Sis graduated from high school in 1966 and headed to Ohio University, where of course she fell right in with the counterculture movement of the late 60’s. My father, although a middle of the road Democrat, wasn’t real of fond of the long haired, free love, anti-war hippie culture. What made it worse was that Sis happily brainwashed her little brother every chance she got. I clearly recall one Sunday afternoon when my sister and her then boyfriend Jigger were pulling out of our driveway in their little Karmann Ghia, headed back to OU. As they drove off, Sis shot me a peace sign to which I immediately responded with one of my own. I then promptly received an ass-ripping from my Dad, quite clearly making his feelings known about those damn peace loving bohemian flower children. Sis? She was headed to Athens, headband, shades and bellbottoms on, windows down and hair blowing in the breeze.

Damn, she was cool.

Sis was a huge basketball fan, especially college basketball, and she understood the game. It was not uncommon for me to get a call at 10:30pm and suddenly be in the middle of a conversation like this:

“Are you watching Duke and Clemson? Clemson is getting screwed! Coach K is an asshole!”

Just another thing my sister and I had in common. Sis hated Duke.

My mother and Sis were the main reasons I became a teacher. I watched Mom, and then Sis, and the love they had for teaching, which in turn made me want to do it as well. Throughout my career I tried to emulate Sis and the way she treated kids with love and respect. Bottom line, I wouldn’t have been nearly the teacher I became without her influence.

There are a hundred other stories I could tell about Sis, a few that wouldn’t be appropriate for this site.

No worries, Sis. We’ll keep those private.

My sister Karen knew things about me that nobody else on this earth knew, because there’s nobody I trusted more. Like I said, she never judged, and her unconditional love was an incredible thing. I’m going to miss it more than anyone can ever imagine.

As I mentioned earlier, Sis had been going to Oak Island since 1978. A couple weeks ago, even though she was sick, she went one last time. For the 40th straight year she got to breathe in the ocean air and smell the smells of the place she loved so much. I’m so happy her husband Army and the kids made that happen.

We lost Sis last Thursday, June 21st, at 12:03pm. She died at home and was surrounded by the family she loved so much as she passed. She left incredible, unforgettable memories with all of us, and she set an example that we can only hope to try and live up to. There was a steady stream of people at her services on Sunday, and every single person came out of pure love and respect for her.

Sis was everything you wanted in a sister and a best friend.

Sis and I talked every day, whether it be to share a song one of us had heard, a book one of us had read, or to just talk about politics or basketball or something that had happened in the news. Several times since she’s been gone I’ve started to reach out to her about something, only to remember that she’s not here anymore. It breaks my heart.

I know that someday the good memories will begin to outweigh the sad thoughts, and that someday we’ll smile and not cry when we think of her.

Someday.

On Thursday evening, the day Sis passed, I went to a local bar to meet some friends who knew I needed them. It’s a small place, it was early, and I was the first person there. The bartender asked if I wanted some music, I said yes, and she went over to play some tunes.

The first song she played? The Long and Winding Road by The Beatles, one of my big sister’s favorite songs. I asked the bartender why she chose it and she said, “I don’t know. It just came to me.” 

Thanks Sis. I love you.

And I hope that you, Jigger, Andy and the rest are all sitting on a beach somewhere, laughing, telling stories, and remembering all the good times. Lord knows there’s plenty of them, and like you they will never, ever be forgotten.

Thanks men. I’m proud of every one of you.

A few weeks ago things were great. As a high school basketball coach in Southern Ohio, my team had just completed back-to-back 17-win seasons and consecutive trips to the District Tournament at the Convocation Center in Athens, Ohio, our third and fourth trips there in the last 5-years. We accomplished this with few complaints from anybody. In fact, aside from one meeting during our 2015-2016 season and another in 2012-2013, things had run incredibly smoothly in our basketball program. I was extremely proud of my teams, their families and the Paint Valley administration and community. But let’s go back to the beginning . . .

About 6-years ago I was approached by the Athletic Director at out school and was asked to coach the boys basketball team, a job I’d held 16-years prior. I was apprehensive to say the least, so I asked several people their opinion. I was told that it wasn’t a good job, that we were a small school playing much bigger schools for the most part, there was very little talent in the program, and that the kids lacked the commitment to basketball that was evident in football. I was told that it was a different time, that kids were too busy with social media and online games to come to do the extra work or to open gyms.

I took the job anyway, and a week later we had 40 players at our first open gym. Turns out all you had to do was open the doors and they’d come right in. Who knew?

The interest was there, and it soon became obvious there was some talent in our school too.

That first year we won 8-games with a great group of guys, including 5-seniors who set the tone for the years to come. These guys bought into what we were doing and believed in me from the beginning. Our younger players watched them, saw how hard they worked, and that got us off to a good start. That first year we won those 8-games, including a win in the sectional tournament. The next year we won a Sectional Title and went all the way to the District Championship, and followed that up the next year with 16 wins, another Sectional Title and another District Final appearance. After a down year we bounced back with two straight 17-win seasons and two more Sectional Championships. As I mentioned before, all this with only a couple complaints, both of which were addressed and dealt with.

Or so I thought, which brings me back to a few weeks ago.

Again, I had no idea there was a problem until I was asked to come to a meeting with my Principal and Athletic Director on a Thursday. When I arrived I was told that our school board president had been given a list of “Public Concerns”. Right away the word “public” raised a red flag with me because the word “public” made it seem like the entire community was behind it, which I was sure wasn’t the case.

I was then told that the list was anonymous, rendering the term “public” meaningless, at least in my opinion. Hell, anyone can send in a list of complaints and say they were from the public. They may as well have said “national” complaints for all I cared at that point. To me, an unsigned letter is not a letter at all.

However, I was given a copy of the list, which I’ll happily show you later because I want to be as transparent as possible.

As I read the list, it became clear that a few people sat around a kitchen table somewhere, wracking their brain and trying to recall things they could add to the list. Since a few of the “concerns” involved the same people it’s pretty clear who all was involved. Was it a BOE member who actually created the list so they’d have a reason to vote against my renewal? I’ve been told by credible people that yes, it was.

At the time though, I wasn’t really worried. After all, it was a bunch of petty and trivial complaints that I was sure the board would dismiss for what they were, which was basically nothing. The administrators paid to evaluate me – the superintendent, principal and athletic director – were all going to recommend me to be rehired at the board meeting the following Monday.

To be sure, however, I called and texted all the board members to explain my position and to make sure we were all on the same page.

Of the five, two responded positively, one told me he didn’t feel comfortable talking about it and two refused to respond at all. Uh-oh. It was at this point I began to sense something was wrong.

Because of this I thought it would be a good idea to address the board before the vote. I did, and I went over each complaint, explained what each was about, and basically stated my case. Below are my notes regarding each concern, with the concern in bold and my response following. Click to enlarge:

As you can see, most were trivial, and in any event had been taken care of months, and in some cases even years ago.

Note: The complaint about leaving the players who were late for the bus came from one particular over-protective helicopter parent who just can’t get past it. It happened over 2-years ago.

As I went over my notes, one thing became apparent. Three of the board members didn’t care. They refused to look at me. They sat there, heads down and silent. What I was saying was irrelevant. The decision had clearly been made. When I finished there were no questions and zero discussion. This, after I’d given my heart and soul to the district for 25-years.

I was then non-renewed by a vote of 3-2.

After the meeting one board member, the president, stopped and attempted to explain to people who had gathered there, while the others who voted no walked briskly by with their heads down. I was told by the board president that he had, without further explanation, “followed his heart.”

Huh?

One month later, 2 of the 5 board members stepped down in protest, not just because I was non-renewed but because they felt the Paint Valley Board of Education had acted unethically, and quite possibly even illegally, in making the decision. You see, it’s illegal to have private meetings regarding board decisions prior to the board meeting, and this clearly occurred. And oh by the way, texts, phone calls and emails between 2-3 people is considered a meeting. It’s all spelled out in the Ohio Open Meeting Act and Sunshine Law.

Here is one of the board member’s letter of resignation, posted with his permission:

 

The letter speaks for itself.

I’d never blame any of my players for what their parents have done, and I hope you don’t either. I got along with all my players the past 6-years, and even the ones whose parents caused my non-renewal know I care about them. I know this because they’ve told me privately.

Am I upset about what happened? Of course I am. We’d changed the culture and were successful. We’d built something at Paint Valley I was proud of. We were a family. And as many of you know it takes a long time to build a culture, but it can disappear overnight. And in the end, a few people took away something I loved. Worse, I believed I had the support of the three people who voted against me.

Turns out I was wrong. They didn’t even have the courage or courtesy to come to me man-to-man, face-to-face, and address the issue. They took the coward’s way out. I considered all three friends, and I truly believed one would always have my back. He’d played for me and we’d won Paint Valley’s last league title together. Instead of having my back, however, he stabbed me in it.

The best damn fans anywhere. I love you guys.

And yes, I’ve heard the rumors. The board members who are saying that there’s “more to the story.” This is a common tactic among people when they’re trying to put doubt in people’s minds. Believe me, there’s nothing more. If you hear that, demand to hear the “more to the story.” There are no dark secrets. My coaching staff, players, and the administrators who are paid to evaluate me know this.

In retrospect it’s clear this had been in the making for awhile. I know for a fact at least one board member had talked to possible replacements for me as far back as January, and several people have told me that one board member was upset about his son’s varsity playing time. And believe it or not, there were apparently jealousies over all the attention my 6′-11″, 305-pound center received, the same player who happened to end up being the all-time scoring leader in school, league and county history. He also received a full scholarship to play Division I basketball, so yeah, he got some attention.

Bottom line, the decision to non-renew my contract was decided long before that meeting.

And you know the funny thing? All they had to do was sit me down after the season, look me in the eye and tell me that they wanted to make a change. If they’d had the common decency to do that I would have stepped down willingly. Instead, they chose to take the route they took. Guess it was easier for them.

Hey, you learn from these experiences. Some defend you fiercely and some are outspoken against you. And yes, you can learn a lot about those who remain silent too. Your circle grows smaller but stronger.

I’m also fully aware that, although I loved coaching at Paint Valley, there are worse things that can happen to a person. My family members can attest to that right now, believe me.

That said, I still love Paint Valley. I always will. A few small-minded, little, cowardly people can never change that. I wish nothing but the best for our athletes, and I only hope whoever coaches the basketball team loves the team, the school and the community as much as I do. I’m proud of the work I did there, the success we had, and the relationships I developed with my players, coaches, students and the best damn fans in the SVC.

And nobody can ever take that away.

It was a different time. In many ways better, in some ways not.

[click to enlarge]

For all you youngsters out there, what you are about to see may cause you wonderment, confusion and possibly even consternation. For you older folk, it will bring forth a feeling of nostalgia and a possible longing for a simpler time. What I’m talking about is automobiles and what isn’t in them anymore. Hey, it’s been a slow day. Let’s take a gander . . .

BENCH SEATS

What you see below, kids, are what we called bench seats. None of this bucket seat bullshit. Since we never wore seatbelts Dad could take a hard left turn and we’d all go flying into the opposite door. Good times. On a related note, these seats came in handy when taking your girlfriend to the drive-in. I’ll stop right there.

 

TAILFINS

Next we have something you never see anymore, something we called tailfins, and they were spectacular. A side bonus was the fact that you could back into an unsuspecting pedestrian and impale the hell out of his spleen. Seriously though, cars are boring these days compared to these beauties.

 

ASH TRAYS

What you see below, kids, is something that was located on your car’s dashboard, and it was called an ashtray. That little knob on the left was a lighter. See, almost everybody smoked like a fiend back then so of course you needed a handy way to get your cancer stick fired up. We’ll get to all those little buttons and knobs above it shortly.

 

TRUNK SPACE

Seems like everyone drives an SUV these days, but back in the 60s and 70s everyone either drove a regular car or a truck. I had a luxurious Catalina Brougham, and that thing rode like a damn hovercraft. Anywho, most of the cars had enough trunk space to hold a Shetland pony, and I’m pretty sure my friend Cluck snuck 7-people into the Fiesta Drive-In in the trunk of his ’68 Chevy Impala once. Seriously, look at all that space. Now that I think of it, most cars don’t even come with a regular spare tire anymore. Sad really.

 

FLOOR MOUNTED DIMMER SWITCH

This next one is really gonna blow the minds of youngsters far and wide. That little doohickey you see below was on the floor of your car, to the left of the brake and gas pedal. What was it for, you ask? It was your headlight dimmer switch. Not even kidding. And it made a satisfying little click whenever you stepped on it to dim or brighten your headlights.

 

VENT WINDOWS

These were called vent windows and every car had them. You’d open them for a little fresh air, but mainly to flick your ashes out of so they wouldn’t fly back and burn your kid’s eyeballs out like they might if you tried flicking them out your regular window.

 

HORN RINGS

That thing you see on that steering wheel? It was called a horn ring. You simply pressed on it whenever you wanted to frighten a passing child on the sidewalk. On a related note, every car horn sounded like a damn tugboat horn. None of that beep-beep crap back in the day, man.

 

CRANK UP WINDOWS

See that weird looking thing? Young folk, back in the barbaric days of yore people actually had to reach down and roll up their own damn windows. Gasp!

Thought: Why doesn’t every car still come with these as a backup? You know, when you’re automatic windows inevitably stop working?

 

METAL DASHBOARDS

Here’s something else you never see anymore – metal dashboards. None of that wussy padding for the Greatest Generation, man. Hey, if you’d gone to war against the Nazis a few sharp objects on your dashboard didn’t bother you a whole lot. Just sayin’.

 

TAPE PLAYERS

Check it out! Kids, that’s what we called an 8-track tape player! See, you jammed the tape in there and it played the music of your favorite musical artist!

Note: Remember when the music would start dragging and you’d have to stick a matchbook or something under it to get it to play right? Sometimes I long for the old days.

 

CASSETTE PLAYERS

Soon, my children, tapes and the tape player became obsolete and was replaced by cassettes and this little contraption, the cassette player. Sometimes the tape in the cassette would get all tangled up and you’d have to rewind it back up with a pencil. I’m serious. I included a photo below the cassette player pic. That’s what separates me from your average blogger right there, people. I go the extra mile.

 

 

ANTENNAS

What the hell is that, you ask? That, my friends, is an antenna. You could pull that thing down real far and let it whip back and lacerate your friend’s face, just for fun. Gas stations use to give out little antenna toppers that you could stick on the top of it, too. I once had a Union 76 ball that flew off and nearly killed an old lady behind me on the freeway. Fun!

PS – Photo of identical antenna topper included below!

PPS – It has been pointed out to me that some cars still have antennas. Really?

PPPS – Antennas gradually grew shorter and shorter until they disappeared into the windshield. Sad really.

 

REAR FACING SEATS

Check it out, man. Rear facing seats! Andy Anderson and I rode all the way to Boulder, Colorado and back riding in the rear of a 1967 Buick Sport Wagon. It was sort of a weird vibe watching the world go by backwards like that, lemme tell ya. You never knew where you were until you were past it.

 

DIAL RADIOS

Finally, we have the dial radio. Yes, you could either set a station by pushing a button or just roll through the stations manually. Barbaric but effective.

Aaaaaand, that’s all I can think of. Knowing my loyal readers like I do, however, I’m sure somebody will quickly point out something obvious I missed and make me feel stupid. Thanks in advance!

Back on the late 60s and early 70s there was a baseball camp near the town I grew up in. It was Ted Kluszewski’s Baseball Camp, run by the former Cincinnati Reds’ slugger from back in the day. During the days of the Big Red Machine, “Big Klu” was the team’s hitting instructor. Anyway, it was a cool camp with kids attending from all over the world. Players ranging in age from 6- 17 attended the camp, and local baseball teams would go there to play against the campers. Bottom line, I spent a ton of time there, either playing in or watching games.

As I’ve mentioned before I used to spend a copious amount of time at my Uncle Myrl’s house and I basically went wherever they went, which leads to my story.

My Aunt Dorothy had taken my cousin Mick and I to the camp to watch some games, and it being the late 60s and all she just dropped us off and left, telling us she’d be back in a couple hours. Alas, it was a simpler time. Anyway, she returned later to pick us up, and we hopped in the backseat for the ride home.

However, as we were pulling out of the lot a guy waved us to a stop, and as I recall he didn’t look happy. Aunt Dorothy rolled her window down to see what was up, and the following conversation (as I remember it) then took place.

“Ma’am, I’m sorry to stop you but your boys have something that belongs to us.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Your kids stole some of our baseballs. I have people who saw them getting foul balls and sticking them down their pants.”

[Those of you who want to insert a “balls in your pants” joke may do so now.]

What I witnessed next was the most epic ass-ripping my young ears had ever heard, and believe me, I’d heard a lot. But alas, my aunt’s gush of fury and vitriol wasn’t directed at us. Instead, Aunt Dorothy tore into this poor dude in every way imaginable, letting him know in no uncertain terms that she had not raised thieves and there was no way on God’s green earth we would ever stoop to the level of a common criminal.

During all of this Mick and I sat quietly in the backseat, not saying a word.

Turns out there was a reason for this.

I recall the guy backing away with his hands up as he said he was sorry for the mistake and left, presumably to look for the real ball burglars or perhaps a corner in which to weep.

You know, we might have gotten away with it had Aunt Dorothy not had to make a sudden stop on the way home in the little town of Bainbridge when some jackass pulled in front of her. But he did, and that was when all the baseballs we’d pilfered rolled out from under the backseat from where we’d hidden them, onto the front floorboard, and around the feet of the woman who’d just defended us to the ends of the earth to a man who’d had the audacity to call us crooks.

Which, incidentally, we now very clearly were.

Well, I thought the tongue-lashing given to our accuser was bad, but it paled in comparison to what was laid on Mick and I now.  We were yelled at, belittled, shamed, mocked and at one point may or may not have been called assholes.

Which, again, would not have been a false statement.

Note: Understand that the fact I was a nephew wasn’t figured into the equation. When I was with my cousins I was considered one of the immediate family in every sense of the word. This was often a good thing but sometimes not. This time? Decidedly not.

We then had to suffer the indignity of returning to the baseball camp, giving back our stash, and apologizing to the man who had accurately accused us of our larceny in the first place. I believe we had to perform this indignity in front of an entire Pop Warner Little League team who happened to be nearby. The fact that a couple of them were laughing at us only added weight to our collective embarrassment.

And I still remember our accuser’s smirk as he accepted the returned baseballs. Dude was absolutely smug I tell ya.

And Aunt Dorothy must have figured we’d learned our lesson because as far as we ever knew she never told my Uncle Myrl or my father Ralph, and for that we were thankful. If she had a more physical punishment would have undoubtedly been administered, and that would’ve hurt a lot more than an ass-ripping by an aunt, the smug-smirk of a baseball camp employee, or the laughs of a couple 5-year old little league punks.

Alas, we survived, although we may have been blackballed from Ted Kluszewski’s Baseball Camp for a week or two, I cannot recall for certain.

Just another day in the life of a Bourneville kid.

Thoughts?

Quite simply one of the most chilling, life-altering scenes of all-time. Anyone who has viewed it cannot be in an empty hotel hallway without thinking about the scene when Little Danny peddled his three-wheeler around the hotel. It’s not just the smooth, ominous low-to-the-floor shots that track behind Danny, giving you the sense that someone is right behind him. It’s the silence: Hearing the wheels go from carpeting to floor to carpeting to floor, you feel the enormous emptiness of the hotel-which then sets you up perfectly for when he turns that one corner and there they are: Those spooky Grady girls. Chills, man.

In coaching there are a million things you do that have nothing to do with basketball, believe me. Here’s an example . . .

Last season after a game I got a Facebook message from the mother of a player at a school we’d just finished playing. She told me her mother had left her cell phone in the gym and wondered if I knew somebody who’d be at the school to look for it.

It was closing in on midnight and I knew nobody was there, so I told her I’d run up and look. Then, after giving me a general idea of where her mom had been sitting, she gave me her cell phone number so I could call and let her know if I found it.

The first thing I noticed when I walked into the gym was that the bleachers were all pushed in against the wall. Just when I was getting ready to try and find the controller to pull them back out, I had an idea – call the woman back and have her call her mother’s cell phone. Boom. I’d know right where the phone was located. Perfect plan, right?

Except it wasn’t.

When I called to explain my plan, the lady said sure, no problem. Then, after hanging up I went to mid-court and listened.

Nothing.

At that point my phone rang, I answered, and was told by the woman that her mother’s phone was on vibrate.

Well, hell.

Guess I’d have to pull the bleachers out and do a grid by grid search of the east lower bleachers of Donald. E. Anderson Gymnasium, fondly known as “The Jigger.”

But wait. I had another idea.

I called the woman, who I was really beginning to feel close to by this time,  back and asked her to call again and let it ring. My plan was to go the middle of the pushed-in bleachers, put my ear up against them, and listen.

Sure enough, I felt and heard a faint vibration coming from close to the area I’d been told they were sitting. The sound got louder as I slowly worked my way towards it. When I got to the spot where I believed it was, it happened to be under the top row, so I didn’t even have to pull the bleachers out. Boom! I just reached under and there it was. However, the following conversation then ensued:

Me, happily: “Got it.”

Female Caller: “Jimmy?”

Me, flummoxed: “No, Dave. Coach Shoemaker. I have your mom’s phone.”

Caller: I’m Jimmy’s mom. Who are you again and why do you have Jimmy’s phone?”

Me, still not getting it: “No, you called me to find your mom’s phone. I found it.”

I swear I was still wondering why I wasn’t getting thanked profusely for finding somebody’s mother’s phone.

Caller: “I never called you. I called Jimmy’s phone and you answered. What’s going on? Where’s Jimmy?” 

It was probably the faint buzzing I heard in the background that caused my mind to engage and realize what had happened. There were two lost cell phones, dumbass. Rather than try and explain the madness, I simply told Jimmy’s mom he’d left his cell phone at a basketball game, told her how he could get it back, and hung up. I’m 99% sure she still had no idea what the hell was going on.

Sure enough, I then listened again using the same method and found the original phone, also under the top row.

What are the odds? Incredible really.

I answered the phone and thank God the original, and correct, mother was on the other end. Whew. At that point I expected a third mother to be on the other end.

In the end, everyone got their phone back so everyone was happy. All’s well that ends well I guess?

Note: That Jimmy must have a hell of a game, and I’m not talking sports. Had chicks texting him all night.

Every teacher I know has experienced tough classes, those groups that were a little more difficult than others. One particular year I had a really troublesome group, and to make matters worse I had them the last period of the day. Any teacher will tell you that having a demanding group of kids at the end of the day is never a good combination.

Anyway, one year I had one such group, and when I say they were bad I mean bad. I had to constantly stay on top of them or the class would spiral into total chaos. There were one or two boys in particular that the rest of the class sort of fed off of, and it was just a difficult group to deal with all-around.

The year I had this particular class I was teaching Social Studies, and for the few years prior I’d been a part of our local Junior Achievement program, where local business men or women would come in and teach a class once a week for 8-weeks. They’d be given a lesson plan from the Junior Achievement folks and apply their knowledge and experience in teaching the class. As luck would have it, the Junior Achievement class was assigned to my last period.

Uh-oh.

Whatever poor schmuck was assigned to my class was in for a terrifyingly enlightening experience. Hell, I had some problems with this group and I rarely had problems with any class. There was simply no way this could end well.

Could the situation get any worse? Turns out it could. The businessman assigned to my class turned out to be . . . wait for it . . . my 75-year old retired father.

Dad had been the Purchasing Manager at the Mead Corporation for many years, he’d been asked to take part, and the woman running the program thought it would be nice to assign him to my class.

Oh boy. All I could envision was a bunch of 8th grade heathens running roughshod over my poor father. He’d never taught a day in his life and he’d just been handed the worst group of kids I’d ever had as an educator. I mean, I knew my Mom was a badass teacher, but Dad? I was worried.

As for Dad, I tried to warn him but he just sort of chuckled and shrugged it off. I also mentioned to my class that my father would be their Junior Achievement teacher, and they too sort of chuckled and shrugged it off. Man, did I dread seeing Dad walk through my classroom door on that first day. Poor guy was being fed to the lions and he had no idea.

Well, the day finally arrived and as I let Dad into my classroom the kids were, unsurprisingly, laughing and joking as I introduced him. I raised my voice at them and implored them to settle down. And then, my father began to speak . . .

He spoke quietly as he addressed the class. He never implored them to quiet down, never asked them to please pay attention. Incredibly, one by one the kids stopped talking, and one by one they slowly turned around, watched, and listened. There was something about his bearing, his attitude, that had the class in rapt attention.

And I swear to God he never raised his voice once.

Incredibly, this continued for 8-straight classes. Dad had them in the palm of his hand, man. They respected him simply because of the way he carried himself and the way he treated them. And boy, did I learn a lot from watching him.

Sure, teachers can learn a lot from in-services, education classes, and other resources. But I also think a lot of good teachers are simply born with that ability to relate, and to connect, with students. That first day I learned that my father was one of those people.

And I also learned to never, ever underestimate my Dad.

Back when I was Athletic Director at our school I pulled a pretty good prank, although admittedly it was a prank that was a little on the edge. OK, it may have been over the edge. Here’s how it all went down . . .

For reasons I don’t remember I was over in the elementary building of our school, which is separate from the high school but only about 30-feet away. I probably walked over to shoot the breeze with some little kids, because nothing can cheer me up quicker. Well, except Sparky. Anyway, I turned a corner and saw nearly 20-students standing there in a nice, organized line outside the teacher’s lounge, albeit with no teacher in sight. I soon ascertained that their teacher was in the lounge, presumably using the restroom or possibly hitting up the snack machine, I can’t be certain.

Anyway, I knew the teacher pretty and I knew all her kids, and when I was going down the line knuckle-bumping the shawties it hit me – this is the perfect time to pull a fast one.

I was going to steal her class.

Quickly and with the precision of a master sleuth I explained my diabolical plan to the kidlets – follow me and we’ll pull a great trick on your teacher.

They were in.

Oh, there were a couple new kids looking at me with trepidation, possibly even fear, but even they were overwhelmed by the wave of peer pressure brought on by the majority of little prankster imps.

With a silence that surprised even me, the little dudes followed me like lambs to slaughter. Wait. That’s probably not appropriate. The little dudes followed me like the imminent threat of death. Nah, way too dark. The little dudes followed me like little 3-foot shadows.

Bingo.

I took the class all the way to my office in the high school. We took the back way too, so no other elementary teacher could spot us and narc us out.

Once there we camped out in my office, which really wasn’t built for 18-people plus me but most of them were pint-sized so we made it work. At one point I recall our high school principal walk by, look in the room, shake his head, and continue on his way.

He didn’t want to know.

In the meantime, here’s what went down over in the elementary hallway, as told by the irresponsible teacher who’d lost an entire class of innocent children that day . . .

Upon her exit from the lounge, at first there was confusion. Then, she assumed they’d walked on down to their classroom so she went there. Nothing. It was at this point where confusion slowly began to turn to panic. She jogged to the gym. Nobody. Looked outside on the playground. Empty. Asked a couple teachers if they’d seen anything. Nada. Now she was coming to the grim realization that she had to tell the principal the unthinkable, that she’d lost an entire class of 9-year olds. Then, because I have impeccable timing, her cell phone buzzed . . .

“Hello?”

“Hey, what’s up?”

Oddly and inexplicably, she knew immediately upon the sound of my voice I was somehow responsible for this. How dare her?

“Shoemaker, damn it! Where are my kids! You scared the hell out of me! Bring them back!”

“Why, I have no idea what you’re talking ab . . .”

Nah, I couldn’t do it. I was laughing too hard to continue, not to mention there were 18-munchkins giggling maniacally in the background. Eventually I was convinced to return her class to her, and after taking a couple really hard shots to the sternum all was forgiven. Hey, so the kids missed a few minutes of Science class. The knowledge they gained regarding the Art of the Prank will last them a lifetime.

 

 

 

Before we begin, let us simply recall the iconic opening to every episode of one of the most amazing TV shows of all-time, The Twilight Zone . . .

Yes, there were variations of the same opening, but you get the gist.

I recorded the Twilight Zone Marathon recently, and I just finished watching nearly 70-episodes. There were 156 total, but these were deemed some of the best. I learned a few things while watching, and the most striking of these was that Rod Serling got away with a lot of crazy and outrageous stuff.  More on that later.

I also learned that lots of stars and future stars were on the show. People like Mickey Rooney, William Shatner, Ron Howard, Burt Reynolds, Carol Burnett, Buster Keaton, Robert Redford, Dennis Hopper, Leonard Nimoy, Lee Marvin, and Don Rickles all guest starred. The décor – early 60’s Mad Men style.

Another aspect that stood out was the introductions and closing remarks by Serling. Just incredible writing. Here’s a sample:

Nobody else, and I mean nobody, could pull that off like Serling. Love it. Here’s a sample of one of his closing monologues:

Again, so well done.

It was also amazing how Serling touched on political issues of the day. Some episodes even touched on World War II and the treatment of Jews.  This was just 15-18 years after the war, and the scenes were brutal. They spoke of the experiments done on prisoners and everything. Pretty incredible for such a conservative era.

That said, I’ll now give you my 12 favorite Twilight Zone episodes. Let us commence . . .

Nightmare at 20,000 Feet

William Shatner (later to become Captain Kirk in Star Trek) stars in what might be the most famous and revered of all Twilight Zone episodes. He plays a man traveling aboard a commercial flight with his wife. He spots a monster on the wing, trying to damage it. He tries to alert the crew and other passengers to the potential danger lurking just outside his window seat. However, the clever being makes sure to fly out of view every time someone else peers through the glass, leaving Shatner to look foolish and delusional. In typical Twilight Zone fashion, the final shot is the killer. As Shatner is taken away on a stretcher, the camera pans away showing actual damage the monster has done to the wing. Awesome. On a related note, the shot where Shatner has closed the window, only to open it to see the monster’s face pressed against the window scared the bejesus out of me.

Note- Watching it now, the “monster” appears to have been created by a 5th grade art class. Still a classic episode.

Living Doll

This episode is always referred to as “Talking Tina” and it was the single scariest thing I’d ever seen in my life. Trust me, as a 6-year old this was just petrifying and life-altering to witness. I still hate dolls to this day because of this show. In this one Telly Savalas plays a man who isn’t a fan of his stepdaughter’s new “Talky Tina” doll, especially after the doll starts telling him she’s going to kill him. What follows is a twisted domestic drama powered by the actions of an evil toy. There have been dozens of TV shows and movies that have told stories about talking dolls since, but Rod Serling’s take is still the best by far. Believe me, I haven’t looked at a doll the same since.

The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street

Ah, another great one that asks the viewers to decide who the real monsters are, the alien invaders or their very own friends and neighbors? “Monsters” finds the residents of an unnamed town in a panic when they conclude an alien invasion is afoot, and it began because of a loud noise and a power outage. Rather than team up to combat the terror from beyond the stars, they succumb to paranoia and vigilante-like behavior, leading their invaders to conclude that the best way to destroy mankind is to let us do the deed ourselves. Rod Serling, who wrote the episode, summed it up best in the closing narration, making a social point as he often did:

“The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, and prejudices — to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill. And suspicion can destroy. And a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own – for the children, and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is, that these things cannot be confined . . . to the Twilight Zone.”

Wow.

The Invaders

In this one, a poor impoverished woman (Agnes Moorehead, who went on to play the mother on Bewitched) lives alone in a rustic cabin. She is dressed shabbily, and there are no modern conveniences in evidence. After hearing a strange noise above her kitchen roof, she is attacked by small intruders that come from a miniature flying saucer that has landed on her rooftop. Two tiny figures about 6-inches high, which may be robots or beings wearing pressure suits, emerge from the craft. As a kid this was creepy as hell. Anyway, the small figures attack the woman, using small, pistol-like weapons that leave radiation burns on her skin, and, after following her into her cabin, slashing her ankle and hand with her own kitchen knife. The suspense builds as the woman searches for the invaders. She eventually destroys one, wrapping it in a blanket and beating it until it is still, then throwing it into the burning fireplace. She follows the other to the saucer-ship on her roof, which she proceeds to attack with a hatchet. From within the craft, she hears a voice speaking in English. These are the first words we’ve heard the whole episode, and the intruder knows he’s about to die. He then proceeds to frantically warn other potential visitors that the planet is inhabited by giants and they are impossible to defeat. Then comes the kicker. The camera pans slowly away to reveal the markings on the side of the ship, which reads U.S. Air Force Space Probe No. 1. You see, the invaders were human astronauts from Earth, and the woman in the small farmhouse belongs to a race of giant humanoids native to another planet. Another shocking ending.

The Bewitchin’ Pool

In my mind, one of most unforgettable of all the Twilight Zone episodes. A young girl and her little brother live in a beautiful suburban home, complete with a large swimming pool. Their parents are cold, short tempered, and forever fighting in front of their children. One day, a boy pops up from the deep end of their pool and invites them to follow him. Wait. What? The children then follow by diving underwater and surface in a beautiful countryside. It is simple and plain, and unlike their spectacular home. There are no adults except for a kindly woman who bakes desserts and offers kind words. The children go back home through the swimming pool because they’re worried that their parents have missed them. They break through the water to find that their neglectful parents haven’t even noticed that they were gone. The children return again to the idyllic countryside by diving through the pool, and this time, they stay. Their parents search for them in the pool, but never find them. The children remain happily ever after, cared for and loved, in this paradise. It wasn’t until I watched this episode as an adult that I saw that it could be perceived as legitimizing childhood suicide in response to bad parenting, and a child’s simple wish to get the hell away. No way this would be broadcast today.

The Hitch-Hiker

Another terrifying example of the plot twists Twilight Zone was known for. We begin with a young woman traveling alone cross country trip. She blows a tire and when she takes her car in for repairs, we get a hint that something is amiss when the mechanic tells her she should have called a hearse, not a car repair service. She drives on, but keeps seeing a man hitchhiking no matter how far she drives. Shaken, she finally stops and calls her mother, only to be told that her mother had a nervous breakdown when her daughter was killed in a car accident 6-days ago. She is in disbelief, but returns to her car, where the hitchhiker awaits her. She ultimately realizes that the hitchhiker is death, patiently waiting for her. What I see now that I didn’t see then is that you can’t outrun fate. In the unforgettable final scene, Nan returns to the car and looks in the vanity mirror on the visor. Instead of her reflection, she sees the hitchhiker. He looks at her and asks, “I believe you’re going my way?” Jeebus.

After Hours

There is another episode I can directly blame for one of my phobias and that is my fear of mannequins. In a department store, there is a 9th floor for no one else but the store’s mannequins. Once a month, they take turns living as humans in the real world. When their time is up, they return to the 9th floor, except for the day that Mannequin Marcy decides she likes being human too much and is not going back. My older and wiser take on it now? Serling was telling us that, sometimes, a small taste of honey is worse than none at all.

Time Enough at Last

What a great, great episode that is often ranked as the best Twilight Zone ever. Burgess Meredith stars as Henry Bemis — a man who just wants to get away from the everyday world and bury his nose in a good book. Henry gets his wish one day when the rest of humanity is wiped out in a nuclear attack. He soon discovers an untouched library — a place where he can read in peace for the rest of his existence. Thrilled with his discovery, Bemis settles in. As he gets ready to crack open his first book, the worst happens – he breaks his glasses. Virtually blind, Bemis is now stuck in a world with all the time and books he could ever want and no way to enjoy them. Damn you Rod Serling!

To Serve Man

Another classic. In this episode, mankind has seemingly found a kindly alien savior in the form of the Kanamits — a race of towering space travelers who are all too willing to help Earth get rid of the problems of hunger and war. But their personal manifesto, a book entitled To Serve Man, isn’t the guide for peace that everyone thought it to be. As the woman who figured it all out yells at the end of the episode, “It’s a cookbook! IT’S A COOKBOOK!” Ah, to serve man. It all made chilling sense in the end.

It’s a Good Life

Bill Mumy was absolutely terrifying as the 6-year-old Anthony Freemont, a boy with incredible psychic powers who holds everyone around him under his power. Little Anthony could simply think you out of existence for displeasing him. He was some sort of godlike child with the ability to read minds, make people disappear, mutate other living beings, and control the weather. The adults obviously tiptoe around the temperamental kid, but it never really matters, because he’s six, and six-year-olds aren’t particularly rational in the first place, amirite? Here’s Serling closing quote:

No comment here, no comment at all. We only wanted to introduce you to one of our very special citizens, little Anthony Fremont, age 6, who lives in a village called Peaksville in a place that used to be Ohio. And if by some strange chance you should run across him, you had best think only good thoughts. Anything less than that is handled at your own risk, because if you do meet Anthony, you can be sure of one thing – You have entered The Twilight Zone.”

The Eye of the Beholder

I watched this as a kid and it terrified me for weeks. A young woman undergoes surgery to improve her appearance and look like everyone else. She spends most of the episode swathed in head bandages as shadowy doctors and nurses talk around her. She’s terrified they won’t be able to make her beautiful. When the wraps are removed, the doctors proclaim the procedure a complete failure — but the audience sees the lovely Donna Douglas and wonders what the holy hell they’re talking about. It all becomes clear when the doctors and nurses are revealed. In one of the most memorable Twilight Zone endings of all time, the docs and nurses all look like some sort of mutant pigs. “Eye of the Beholder” indeed.

Long Distance Call

This episode frightened me so much that I promised myself I would never see it again. I lied. After his grandmother dies, a little boy is mysteriously given a phone. On this phone, only calls from his deceased grandmother can come through. Grandma then tries to convince Little Billy to kill himself to join her. And so he tries, several times in several ways. I can say without a doubt that today, this storyline encouraging childhood suicide would never be allowed to be aired. Just normal prime time entertainment for the Twilight Zone, though.

So there ya go, my personal favorite Twilight Zone episodes. What are yours? Let’s hear it!

I first heard this song back in 1973 when ELO appeared on The Midnight Special. The strings, the sound . . . I was blown away. Thus began a 40+ year love affair with Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra. So damn good.

Yep. Five years today. Hard to believe, really. After months of meticulous and careful planning, conducting arduous interviews while assembling my crack staff, and clearing a myriad of government regulations, we launched Shoe: Untied on an unsuspecting world.

Since that warm, sparkling Spring Day back in 2012 I’ve posted over 5,300 times and have been viewed by citizens from all over the world. For reasons unbeknownst to me, our humble little site is very popular in Belgium and the Philippines. I know, that makes absolutely no sense to me either.

The site has had as many as 300,000 hits in a single day as we’ve covered sports, politics, education, history, kids, animals, music, entertainment, and God knows what else. We’ve posted original writing, weird, funny and outrageous videos, and we’re 87.3% sure Lebron James himself messaged us to defend himself once.

I’ve received death threats and angry messages from racists, nazis, clowns, midgets, Trump supporters, fans of Peter Cetera, the People of Facebook, and angry mothers of high school bowlers.

The other day somebody made the comment on Facebook (after I’d made fun of something or other) that we, “Shouldn’t judge.” My response? “If I can’t judge I should probably shut down my website.” Honestly, that’s true. A large percentage of my content is making fun of people. Not sure what that says about me, and I may not want to know.

I’ve also received some great response from stuff I’ve written that sort of came straight from the heart, blogs like Remembering Andy, Jigger, Jigger’s Tree, Sara’s Last Wish, Trusting Robbie, A Man called Pop, A Right Cross, With Love, “You Saved Me, You Know“, Losing Tim, and WE ARE PAINT VALLEY.

See, I might just have a heart after all.

Of course, a lot of my writing is an attempt at humor, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Some of my more popular humorous blogs include Regarding Beach MidgetsTop 40 Eternal Musical Questions Answered! Sort of.OSU vs. Michigan and the Road Trip to End All Road TripsDodgeball: A Microcosm of LifeAn Incident at the MallHow a Convict Killed My Relationship, But Probably Saved Me In the Long Run, The All-Time Cartoon Football Team, My Reviews of the VMA Awards, and many more.

Of course, a lot of my writing involves my best friend, a 25-pound bundle of smarts and energy called Sparky. Just type is name into the search box up there to read all about him. Fair warning though – you might be up all night. I’ve written about that pup a lot.

A few of my articles have been picked up by newspapers and national websites, so that’s always cool. One piece, Requiem for a Tradition: The Demise of High School Sports, was linked to on The Big Lead, nationally prominent sports website.

Of course, sprinkled throughout has been funny, interesting or just plain strange videos, new articles with my commentary, and various other weirdness. I’ve had regular features like Cool Animal of the Day, Map of the Day, Incredible Photo of the Day, music videos, and a bunch of other stuff. I read somewhere once that if people visit a website 3-4 times and nothing new has been added they don’t come back, hence the crazy filler stuff.

Honestly though, writing is therapeutic for me. It’s an outlet that, quite frankly, I need. Is there ego involved? Absolutely. I get a thrill out of getting good feedback when I write something that touches somebody enough to make them cry, laugh, or feel something. Hell, I even get a kick out of the people I piss off. You know, except that one insane lady. She actually scared me a little.

All in all, though, the whole thing has been a positive experience. I’ve made a bunch of new friends a few new enemies in the last 5-years, I think more of the former than the latter.

I think.

Will this site make it another 5-years? Who knows. But hey, I’ll give it a shot, and hopefully you’ll hang around with me.

Especially my good friends in Belgium and the Philippines.

Three years ago we went out to play in a big tournament in Morgantown, West Virginia. Our game was against Morgantown High School, whose enrollment of 1,700 was over 6-times larger than ours at Paint Valley. However, since the Bearcats aren’t the backing down types, we’d accepted the challenge and headed out there for the game. It was a great all-around experience for our kids, spending a couple days out of town, staying in a hotel and eating at nice restaurants, all paid for by the tourney organizers.

The game itself was a pretty good one, but in the end the eventual 2016 West Virginia State Champions wore us down and won by 20-points or so. The score, however, isn’t the point of this story. It’s something that happened in the last few minutes of the game . . .

We had a freshman on the bench that day who didn’t play much varsity, and it happened to be his birthday. As the clock wound down, I walked to the end of the bench where he sat. The following conversation then ensued:

“PJ, I’m putting you into the game now. You’re going to make a 3-pointer on your birthday.”

“OK, coach.”

Except he just sat there.

“PJ, go into the game.”

At that point it hit him that he was in fact entering the game to compete against the best D1 high school basketball team in West Virginia, so he stood up and ran to the scorer’s table.

He then checks into the game and we run a couple plays for him, trying to get him that big birthday 3-pointer. Of course, our bench knows what’s up so they’re standing up on each shot, disappointed when each one bounces off the rim.

Of course, our fans have caught onto what we’re trying to do so they’re into it as well, rising up with each of PJ’s high arching rainbows, only to let out a loud, “Awww . . .” when the shots wouldn’t connect.

And then an interesting and somewhat confusing thing happened – the other team and its fans started cheering for PJ too.

What the heck?

Now, PJ is a cool, likeable kid and all, but the other team and their fans didn’t know that. They had no idea it was his birthday. Why the hell were they cheering so loudly for him?

Anyway, on his last chance PJ launches one of his patented high-arching threes, and of course he drains it. Our crowd goes wild, their crowd goes wild, our bench goes crazy, their bench is waving towels, and PJ gets hugs from both teams. I also recall a kid in the Morgantown student section stepping out to give him a high-five.

Still, it seemed odd and didn’t really add up, and after both teams shook hands (PJ got a lot of hugs and head rubs), I brought it up in the locker room. That’s when PJ cleared it all up for me:

“Uh, coach, I’m pretty sure the other team thought I was a special needs kid or something.”

Ahhhhh. That explained a lot. PJ, being a skinny little freshman who everyone was clearly rooting for, was mistaken for one of those kids you see on YouTube videos or the news that get put into a game for their one big chance at glory. They thought he was, you know, mentally disabled or something. To them it was a heartwarming story of a young man who got his big chance and came through in the clutch, and not the simple story of a coach trying to get a freshman player a 3-pointer on his birthday.

In retrospect, hilarious. Those fans in Morgantown are probably still talking about it.

Bottom line, that shot is etched in the memories of all who attended, that high-arching rainbow that drained through the net as an entire gymnasium erupted, the shot that will be known forevermore as . . . The Morgantown Drainbow.

‘Twas special night indeed.

Note: Please save the messages ripping me for making fun of special needs students. I am not. Nor am I making fun of PJ. It was his birthday and the whole thing was completely misread. Hence, it’s funny. In addition, if you know PJ it’s twice as funny. 

Note 2: PJ is now a junior and just completed a good year for us  He’s expected to be a big an even bigger contributor next season

duke

Not Duke but awfully close.

Looking back, growing up in the small southern Ohio town of Bourneville wasn’t a bad way to go. Everybody knew everybody else, everyone looked after each other, and we were sort of unaffected by what was going on in the turbulent 1960’s. Oh, I knew about the Vietnam War and all the protests, but that was mainly because of my oldest sister Karen. Sis, always the rebel, made sure her little bro knew about the injustices of the world. As far as the Civil Rights movement down south, my father had made all that clear to me years earlier during our vacations to Florida. I distinctly remember him pointing to the “Whites Only” signs over bathroom doors in Georgia and explaining how it was wrong. All-in-all though, my daily life was pretty idyllic, to be honest.

I say all that because it’s pertinent to the story that follows.

For a few years in the mid-60’s I had a dog named Duke. Unlike all the dogs I’ve owned as an adult, Duke was an outside dog. We didn’t really know what kind of a dog he was, he sort of looked like a Greyhound with longer, collie-like hair. He was light brown with some white on his face and tail, and he could run like the wind.

How do I know this, you ask? Because he chased every car that drove by our house. Pull in our driveway? Fine. Drive on past? Get chased.

Anyway, Duke was a great dog.  He went with me everywhere, followed me whether I was on my bike or walking. He’d wait patiently outside the local store or gas station while I was inside, hang with my friends and I, or just generally be a great companion for a kid growing up in Southern Ohio.

And everyone in town knew my dog Duke.

Then one day, for some reason I was all by myself at home. This wasn’t unusual, parents left their kids home all the time back then. Hey, we could fend for ourselves. Compared to now it was a totally different world.

Anyway, the phone rang and it was the guy who owned the gas station in the middle of Bourneville. He basically said to get down there, that Duke had been in an accident. Obviously, I was distraught. I raced down there on my bike, and as I rounded the corner I saw a group gathered, maybe 8-10 people. When I got near they sort of separated so I could see, and there, on the ground, was Duke.

He looked normal, no visible injuries at all, and no blood. He was breathing normally and just looked very at ease and peaceful. Still, something was clearly wrong.

What happened next could only happen in a small midwestern town. Somebody backed up a pickup truck, and some of the men helped me place Duke gently in the bed. Somebody put my bike in as well, and we were driven back to my house where we carefully lay Duke on a blanket on my garage floor.

At that point everybody sort of backed away and left, leaving me there with my buddy.

And so here I was, a 10 or 11-year old kid, sitting on my family’s garage floor, with my dying dog’s head on my lap.

After maybe 10 or 15-minutes Duke sort of gave a sigh, and I knew he was gone.

I then held Duke, waited for my father to get home, told him what had happened, and he and I proceeded to bury Duke in our backyard.

Was it a tough moment for a kid my age? Hell, yes. But it was a different time, a different era. What happened wasn’t unusual for a small midwestern town in the 1960s. While people looked out for each other, ultimately you had to be independent and deal with life on your own.

And I did.

And in the end, I was better off for it.

 

Hey, we all have regrets, right? Dumb things we’ve done that we wish we could do over? God knows I do. What follows is one of the dumbest decisions I ever made, not including relationship mistakes of course. If I included those this one would be knocked down to about #79. Anyhoo, I shall now take a deep breath and come clean . . .

Back in 1988 a friend of mine had a buddy who worked for CBS Sports. This guy got us tickets to the 1988 NBA All-Star Game in Chicago. We had passes for the dunk contest, the whole works. Well, by the time we checked into The Omni in Chicago that Saturday we were, uh, having a little too much fun. Later on we were in a bar near the stadium and were having such a good time that we decided, in our infinite wisdom, to stay there and skip the dunk contest. Hey, screw some dumb contest! We’re in Chicago! Plus they don’t have bars back home in Ohio, right?

Sigh.

Kids, I’m embarrassed as hell to report sad to report this would turn out to be the contest where Dominique Wilkins and some loser named Michael Jordan would have their legendary showdown. You know, the one where Jordan came in from the side, looking down on the basket, and nearly ripped the rim off? The one where Jordan jumped from the free throw line to win?

Yeah, that one. Personally I thought Wilkins won, but what the hell did I know? I was in a bar 3-blocks away barely paying attention. To put a cap on things, as we were walking into the stadium for the All-Star game the next day some guy offered us $300 for our tickets. Of course we promptly sold them. What can I say? We were idiots. But hey, it wasn’t like that game wasn’t memorable or anything.

I mean, Jordan only scored 40-points that night, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar became the all-time leading All-Star scorer in history, and the teams included, in addition to Jordan, Wilkins and Kareem, some losers by the names of Larry Bird, Danny Ainge, Kevin McHale, Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Moses Malone, Isiah Thomas, Magic Johnson, Clyde Drexler, Karl Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, and James Worthy.

Man, that actually hurt to type.

Dumb decisions? I’d like to see you top that one.

cub_scout_1968

Not me but damn close.

The following story took place a long time ago, during my 2nd grade year. Yep, way back in 1963. Here’s how it all went down . . .

We were sitting in class at Twin Elementary when our teacher told us that somebody wanted to talk to all the boys. In walked a guy, I can’t remember who, who proceeded to tell us all about the Cub Scouts. It sounded great. There would be hiking, camping, building model cars, all kinds of cool stuff to do. My buddies and I were all amped up. Couldn’t wait! All we had to do was go home and get the forms signed by our parents, which we couldn’t wait to do.

Of course, with my father there would be stipulations.

After I excitedly told him of the opportunity, he sat me down and we had a talk. Number 1, he thought the Cub Scouts would be a great idea. Number 2, he said there would be no quitting once I started. One full year would be completed, no excuses, end of discussion. Hell, that wasn’t a problem with me. I was stoked!

I couldn’t wait to get back to school to tell my buddies I was in, and it turns out they were too. It was gonna be fantastic.

We had our first meeting at the local church, the Cub Scout guy explained everything, and it all sounded great. Then he brought out the uniform. Hey, it was a little different with the little hat, scarf and knee socks, but what the hell, we’d all be wearing it so it’d be cool. I was ready to roll.

Not so fast Scout Boy.

Here’s what I heard from my friends when I got to school the next morning:

“No way I’m wearing that uniform, man.”

“That uniform looks stupid. I’m not wearing that thing.”

“Sounded good but I’m out. I quit.”

Wait. What? You’re quitting because of the uniform? After one meeting?

Turns out they were. My closest friends were out. The only other kid in my class who stayed in was a nerdy little kid named Quincy (name changed to project the nerdy).

Did I ask my Dad for a reprieve so I could stick with my buddies? I did not. I was dumb but not that dumb. A deal was a deal, man.

So, as it turned out every Tuesday Quincy and yours truly wore the uniform to school as required by the Scouts, and every Tuesday I was ridiculed, mocked, jeered, belittled and spat upon.*

*OK, nobody spit on me but it seemed like it at the time. It was 2nd grade hell I tell ya. 

On a related note I’m pretty sure that was the year I learned to fight.

Anyway, at the next meeting we learned who our pack leaders would be, and it turned out mine was a new guy who had recently volunteered.

That man was my father.

Did he join because he knew I was going through a tough time? Did he know it would help me get through it if he was around?

Probably, but if it was true he never said a word.

Bottom line, pretty soon we were doing cool stuff like building and painting little cars to race down a ramp, constructing airplanes to fly, even going on all-night camping trips. It wasn’t long before my non-Scout friends wished their parents hadn’t let them quit, and in fact they joined up the next year. Hey, maybe it was how cool I looked in that uniform. Chicks dig uniforms, ya know.

All-in-all it was fun, and we did it all while learning about being leaders, being responsible and providing service to others.

But what I learned the most was to never, ever quit.

Thanks Dad.

Hey, I taught all through the 90’s, plus I had a kid who was born in 1988. Hence, I remember all this stuff. Do you?

 

When I first began coaching over 30-years ago a lot was different, and coaching-1I’m not talking about the kids I coached.

I’m talking about me.

Everything was sort of black and white for me then, and there has since been a lot more grays. How did that happen? Experience, I guess.

I’ve always loved kids, ever since the first day I set foot in a classroom. Not once did I regret the profession I chose. But teaching and coaching, although similar in a lot of ways, can also be very different. Students are there because the have to be, players are there largely because they want to be.

You have to encourage kids in both the classroom and on the basketball court, and you have to push them as well. However, coaching takes place in a much more public forum.

In the beginning, I’m sure part of the reason I coached was ego driven. It was a way to replace my playing days, a way to compete in front of a crowd. There was that initial thrill of working the sidelines as the fans cheered for your team.

Over time, that changes.

I learned the game from a lot of old school, in-your-face style coaches, great men like Rick VanMatre at Greenfield McClain, Gary Williams at the University of Maryland and Bob Huggins at the University of Cincinnati and now West Virginia. By the way, I just checked and those three have a combined record of 1942 – 872, a winning percentage of .693. That’s nearly 7 of every 10 games they coached. Pretty damn good. I’m not nearly the coach any of those guys are, not by a long shot, but I’ve sure learned a lot from all of them.

You know one of the most important things I’ve learned in my 30+ years of coaching? It’s that kids can handle anything if they know you care about them. Seems simple but it’s true. If they know you love them they don’t take the criticism personally. They know you’re trying to help them.

Quick note – People aren’t completely rational when their relatives are involved, and they shouldn’t be. You can’t take it personally when mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts and uncles criticize you. Love is blind, man, and it’s OK.

And as a young coach, if you feel like you’re going through a bad time or being criticized unjustly, go talk to another coach. They’ll top your story every time. We’ve all been there, buddy. Many times. It’s all a part of the game, and it’s all a part of coaching.

I’ve seen guys who thought they wanted to coach start and not last more than a few years, mainly because of the pressures that come with the job.

Of the 33-years I’ve coached, I’ve only just completed my 12th as a high school basketball coach. I’ve spent time as a coach at the Junior High, JV, Little League, and AAU levels. I’ve also spent a zillion hours as a college camp coach and scout, and I’ve been the international coach of a team from the Caribbean on the beautiful island called Montserrat.

And as coaching has brought me to all these places, to college campuses and incredibly exotic locations like the one in the Caribbean, I’ve also seen the game save lives. I’ve seen basketball take kids from the inner-city to the bright lights, and I’ve seen it literally give young players a reason to live.

That’s not an exaggeration, believe me. I can tell you stories.

Being allowed to coach is a gift, one of the greatest you can be given. And you know why? Because as great as all the wins are (and I’ve been on both sides, believe me), that’s not what ultimately makes it all worthwhile.

Ultimately, it’s about relationships.

It’s about developing relationships with your players, because that’s what lasts. Sure, you remember the big wins, the upsets where you won a big game you weren’t supposed to win. You remember those trips to The Convo, the ultimate goal for teams from our area. But what is lasting, what is important, is the relationships. In comparison, the victories don’t mean so much.

Not really.

I’ve loved every player I’ve ever coached, and I hope they know that. How could I not after everything I put them through? How could I not after they stuck with me through it all, through the tough practices, through the blood and sweat and tears, through all the wins and the losses?

Think about it. What would bring you more satisfaction and fulfillment, winning a District Championship or having a former player ask you to be the Godfather to his son?

No contest, man. And it’s not even close.

Love it!

pvrim

So I’ve been getting up early every morning, grabbing my sturdy walking stick, bournevilleoh1and embarking on 3.5 mile brisk walk through and around the neighborhood.

I begin when it’s still dark, and I’ve mapped out a route that takes me down every street and alley that is the old town of Bourneville, Ohio.

Fun fact: Lewis Igo has the honor of being our first settler, having emigrated to the “Paint Creek Valley” in the autumn of 1797. The first baby born was the son of Lewis, named Tom. Oh, and Bourneville was platted in 1832 by Colonel Bourne, who the town was named after.

I’ve lived in Bourneville most of my life, although I did have a 14-year stint in Chillicothe and spent short periods of time in Columbus and North Carolina. Anyway, as I walk around the village a thought occurred to me, and it was this – I’ve been in nearly every house in Bourneville. Legally even. Seems weird I know, but as a kid my friends and I seemed to get around. Because of this nearly every house, street or building seems to hold a memory for me, many of which have been written about on this site.

But back to the walk. It begins down Taylor Street, past the houses of a few friends I grew up with including Billy and Richard. Richard was my buddy we all called Itch, short for Rich. As I recall his mom didn’t like that name, so being the kind-hearted kids we were, we quit calling him Itch. He henceforth went by the name of Scratch.

Kids, man.

As I round the corner past the house where Scratch use to live and head down the hill on Cropp Street, I’m reminded of the time I attended a Junior High party at the Ward house there on the left. Full disclosure: I had my first kiss in the driveway of that house, and it was spectacular (at least in my mind). I won’t mention names and I have no idea if she reads this site, but she knows who she is.

Past the Ward house and onto Keran Street, I wistfully leave my adolescent memories behind and roll onward. As I come to the base of a small hill where we used to race go carts, I recall the time I was run over by a truck. You read that right, kids. It’s all documented in a blog I cleverly entitled Run Over by a Truck. Fascinating reading I tell ya.

But hey, I lived so it’s all good.

As I come to the end (or beginning, depending on your perspective) of Keran Street I take a right on Upper Twin Road and pass the houses of two more of my childhood friends, Ted and Rocky. Ted, in particular, had my back on more than one occasion. He passed away at a too young age but I still think of him a lot.

The next turn is a right onto North Alley, which takes me through the backstreets of Bourneville. Oh, the memories of racing down that alley on my bike as a kid. I passed the back of my cousin Mel’s house, where many a shenanigan occurred. I once witnessed Mel shoot a kid square in the back with a pellet gun, then thoughtfully remove said pellet with a knife after heating it with a blowtorch. What can I say? It was a tough neighborhood.

Proceeding on westward through the alley, I walk past the former Maughmer family garage where the famous incident with Drano, Max and Grundy took place, all the way to the end and take a hard left to what is now the Valero Station. When I was a kid it did some time as a Sinclair Station, which had those cool dinosaur logos. Seriously, take a look at that logo over there. sinclair_oil_logo-svgAwesome, amirite? It was also known as Brook’s at one point and was also a Texaco. Anyhoo, as I head back down Route 50 I remember what a busy little town Bourneville used to be. Seriously, besides the Sinclair Station the following businesses operated on the main drag:

  • Springer’s: Located at the corner of Cropp Street and Route 50, this was an old country store that had those big jars of candy. Great place that sadly burned to the ground one night in the 70’s.
  • Lance’s: Lance’s was on the left heading east, smack dab in the middle of town. Lance’s was a store run by Jimmy Jack and his son Butch worked there a lot too.
  • Ted Wisecup also ran a very busy gas station right by the firehouse, and I believe it was a Sunoco. I do remember him beating my ass for repeatedly running over the tube that rang when somebody pulled in. He’d warned me a few times to stop, but being the punk that I was I continued. Next thing I knew I was pulled off my bike and whipped with a fan belt. Back then, any adult could beat your ass. ‘Twas a better time in many ways, I tell ya.
  • Where the Dairy Hut now stands, there once stood a beautiful church. I’ll never forget sitting on my porch talking with somebody one beautiful day back in the late 70’s (early 80’s?) when I heard the church bell ring. It was odd because the church hadn’t been in use for a few years. It was only later when I drove by that I realized I’d heard the last ring of that bell, because the church had been demolished and the bell had rung as it fell. Sad. Oh, and this is the corner where the legendary story entitled Harold, Max and Me took place.
  • Catty-cornered from that church stood Homer Ward’s Sohio station, a place where I played many a pinball game.

Like I said, it’s surprising that a town the size Bourneville used to support so many businesses, but support them they did. And as I walk memories of all these places come back to me.

After the Bourneville tour I head back up Twin Road and the hill where the Bicycle Wagon Train made its infamous ride. There may still be scars in the blacktop, man. Then, at the top of the hill, I once again pass The Post for the zillionth time, where it still stands proudly today.

Next I pass a cornfield where Twin School once stood. I not only attended the school in grades 1 through 8 but I taught 6th grade for 3-years there as well.

Heading on up Twin Road, I pass the cemetery and my Uncle Myrl’s old house where I sent many a summer day, take a left, and circle around the new housing development. As I cruise the back stretch I can’t help but remember the time my beloved Sparky tangled with the coyote there. On a related note, I’ve seen some eyes glowing in the dark a few times at that spot and I always have my walking stick at the ready. Hey, I know coyotes don’t attack people but better safe than sorry I always say.

And then, my 3.5 mile walk comes to an end. You know, it’s funny how much different walking the neighborhood is as compared to driving through it. You have time to see things and not just drive by without taking everything in.

As a result, it’s a great way to get back in touch with your town, and also a great way to awaken some old memories. And that’s a good thing, right?