Baby Boomer Blog - January 2014 - June 2016 Entries
"the social generation born from 1943 to 1960,
who were too young to have any personal memory of World War II, but old
enough to remember the postwar American High"
Below are the latest years (2014-2016) of Jeff's "Baby Boomer" Blog, an endless ramble about all things
historical and nostalgic. Having grown up in Ohio's Ashland County, much of it relates to that area during the 1950's and 60's. I will add to it as things occur to me and
it will for the most part be completely disorganized. I find the basic
tendency to wax nostalgic an interesting one and am starting to get a
handle on why it is so appealing, at least in my case. For me much of
the attraction is that childhood was a time when the world seemed
limitless and exciting.
Please contact me at email@example.com with any comments you wish
to add to the comment section or with requests to remove (or properly
credit) a borrowed image. Spelling corrections are also welcome.
The mother of stupidity is always pregnant
has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and
cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that
'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.' - Isaac Asimov
A successful earthly life is the transition from
self-importance to insignificance. From seeking certainty to embracing
uncertainty. Of becoming infinitesimal in order to become part of the
infinite. - Ewing
"Fanaticism is the only form of willpower to which the
weak & irresolute can rise." –Nietzsche
22 June 2016
The city's first championship parade since the Indians won the World
Series in 1948 will long be remembered for a crowd that halted the
procession, forcing police to use bicycles and a horseback unit to
create enough space for cars, bands and floats to pass. The swarm
spilled off the sidewalks, people packed so tightly that fans could
reach into the vehicles and high-five their heroes.
Following a parade choked to a crawl by a massive crowd, after
proclamations, speeches and fanfare, Cleveland watched a symbolic
passing of the trophy — and the torch.
When Browns Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown handed the Larry O'Brien Trophy to Cavaliers superstar LeBron James, the city's long wait was officially over.
After 52 long years, this was a title town again.
Cheered for hours by a sea of adoring fans who first engulfed the
downtown streets and then the Cavs, James and the newly crowned NBA
champions were honored Wednesday with a parade and a
The Cavs chased down history by overcoming a 3-1 deficit to beat Golden
State in a wild seven-game NBA Finals, a comeback that ended the city's
52-year championship drought stretching back to Brown leading the Browns
to a win over the Baltimore Colts in the NFL championship in 1964.
22 May 2016
A snapshot of us playing football on Duff Field in back of Krogers, it was unusual to have two adults observing or coaching as this was a neighborhood group of boys, not an organized team. Despite the date on the print this was probably taken in October 1961 as film would stay in the camera until the entire roll was used. There are lines on the field so even at that point it was used for football, this would be the left and left-center area of the baseball outfield. A year later this would be the main field we used for junior high football. Note that the Super-X Drug Store has not yet been built. It went up the next spring or summer as I recall buying 1962 football cards one night after junior high practice. I also recall being allowed to stand inside the building during its construction and watching the plumbers install the drain lines in the floor.
The cinder path to Osborn School was new in the fall of 1956 and the baseball backstop was erected beside it in about 1958 .
I can't tell if the small Duff barn in back of Luray Lanes is still standing as that area is off camera to the left. It was close to that time that it was torn down, thereby ending our game of jumping off the roof into the hay on one side - pretending we were paratroopers.
4 May 2016
facilis dēscensus Avernō
A Recent Re-Read (going to my point about deciding whether to press your advantage)
"what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"
do you know about the Science of Luck? Go on, tell me. You're the only
one who's understood at all. Have you ever heard of it before?"
"Not under that name."
"I don't suppose you have. That's my name for it. What's its real name?"
"The Pursuit of Death."
There was a pause. Curiosity, fear, impatience bristled behind Avril. He could feel them.
"It's a known thing, then?"
"You did not discover it, my son."
"No, I suppose not." He was hesitating, a torn and wasted tiger, but
still inquisitive. "You've got it right, have you? You have to watch for
your chances and then you must never go soft, not once, not for a
minute. You mustn't even think soft. Once you're soft, you muck
everything, lose your place, and everything goes against you. I've
proved it. Keep realistic and you get places fast, everything falls
right for you, everything's easy. Is that it?"
"That is it," said Avril humbly. "It is easier to fall downstairs than to climb up. Facilis descensus Averni. That was said a long time ago."
"What are you talking about?"
"The Science of Luck." Avril bent his head. "The staircase has turns,
the vine climbs a twisted path, the river runs a winding course. If a
man watches he can see the trend and he can go either way."
"Then you know it? Why are you soft?"
"Because I do not want to die. A man who pitches himself down a spiral
staircase on which all his fellows are climbing up may injure some of
them, but, my dear fellow, it's nothing to the damage he does to
himself, is it?"
"You're crazy! You're on to a big thing, you can see what I see, and you won't profit by it."
Avril turned round in the dark. "Evil, be thou my Good—that is what you
have discovered. It is the only sin which cannot be forgiven because
when it has finished with you, you are not there to forgive. On your
journey you certainly 'get places.' Naturally; you have no opposition.
But in the process you die. The man who is with you when you are alone
is dying. Fewer things delight him every day. If you attain the world,
you cannot give him anything that will please him. In the end there will
be no one with you."
"U.S. evangelicals engage
Scripture from a hermeneutic of privilege today, which at best fosters a vague
comprehension of Christianity. This privileged reading of Scripture allows
believers to envision ourselves as the biblical protagonist despite how much
more our lives and lifestyles actually resemble the scriptural antagonist.
Accordingly, U.S. believers are enabled to exclusively contextualize ourselves
as the prophets delivering the words of the Lord as opposed to the people
rebuked by the Lord’s prophet due to covenantal unfaithfulness to both God and
14 April 2016
The Rotor at Cedar Point
Cedar Point had several versions of this ride until 1984. These photos are of the one I recall. It was my favorite ride in the 1960's. The Rotor was a spinning circular room with padded walls. When the ride is in mid-cycle the riders are stuck to the wall of the barrel by centrifugal force and the floor drops away from them.
There were yellow lines on the barrel of the wall to indicate the level the floor is at
during different points of the ride; the highest line is level with the
floor when the ride begins. This allowed you to participate in much the same experience those carney motorcycle riders had when they operated the Wall of Death attraction at county fairs. The intensity of rides like these was more about awe & disbelief than about detaching a retina on a roller coaster.
27 March 2016
Probably the first Easter I have spent in Ashland since 1966. It warmed up considerably today so I took a long walk around the old neighborhood. I walked down Jackson past our old backyard which was the site of my most compelling Easter memory. 10-14 days before Easter in 1960 some of the many children in the neighborhood found a rabbit's nest full of little bunnies in our backyard. My brother and his friends pulled all the bunnies out and we all played with them. When my father came home from work he made us put them back but he was gloomy about the prospect. Apparently a wild rabbit mother will abandon and even kill her babies if they have a human scent on then. And the next day we found exactly that to have happened. Only three of them were unharmed and we brought them into the house and fed them milk with a eye dropper. Two of them died shortly after but one did well. You can't tame a wild rabbit and even one that young, if released in a room, just darts along the walls looking to escape. We planned on releasing the baby rabbit on Easter but found it dead in its cage that morning.
I was pretty broken up about the situation. From that point forward I did not question the existence of God but at age nine I pretty much discarded anything conventionally taught and decided that it was a huge conceit to reduce the concept of God to human scale. Or:
"We've codified our existence to bring it down to human size, to make it
comprehensible, we've created a scale so we can forget its unfathomable
21 March 2016
In a couple more days Ashland "high - junior - middle" school will be totally down. What is startling about its absence is the degree to which this massive building dominated this area of downtown. Details (some quite beautiful) of the surrounding buildings have unexpectedly revealed themselves. It has been much more dramatic than the wiping off of the somewhat larger Myers Pump complex, in part because the buildings around the school are simply better that those around the factory and in part because the Myers complex had an Industrial Age charm that the school completely lacked.
18 March 2016
The Ghost World of Ashland Ohio
Increasingly apparent that my return in Ashland was almost too late. Driving though downtown this week I passed Gerald's going out of business storefront (in the old Montgomery Ward building) only to glance down the other side of the street and see them tearing down the old Sale Chevrolet building (or at least the service area behind the front showroom). The Chevy dealership was housed in that building for many decades until moving near the fairgrounds back in the late 1960's. In its better days the building had that classic 1920's Hollywood look. We were a Chevy family and my father loyally bought every car there, he was a lifelong friend of Wayne Wright and even continued to buy cars from him after our move to Strongsville; of course by then they had moved out of the original building. The earliest I remember was a 1953 Chevy. This was followed by a 1959 Bel Air - with the massive horizontal tail fins. Then a 1962 Corvair, a 1964 Malibu station wagon, a 1967 Corvair, and a 1968 Impala. The Impala was the first one with a radio (just AM), also the first with air conditioning and power steering.
Since I returned they have torn down four schools, much of the Myers Pump factory complex, and now all but the front facade of the old Chevrolet dealership.
William John Bishop, 63 of Ashland died Sunday March 13, 2016 at Good Shepherd
Nursing Home. He was born August 1, 1952 in Ashland the son of John and Mary
Smalley Bishop. He was a factory worker at Coburn Inc. and also a mechanic for the family
business. Bill was a 1970 graduate of Hillsdale High School and loved sprint car racing.
The above photo is of me (on the right) with Billy Bishop in Jeromesville during the summer of 1956; probably David Kyler in the background who was killed in 1973. Both of their gravestones are about 100 yards from where we are all standing in the photo and my plot awaits in the same area. For three seemingly interchangeable small town Ohio boys playing together in their backyards, it is hard to imagine three so remarkably different lives.
5 February 2016
This was the second season of the show, confirming my memory of watching it in both our Edgehill (1st season)
and our Duff (2nd & 3rd season) houses. Note Bonnie in the lower left.
28 January 2016
Don Reinhart & Janet Klingensmith
I went to the Ashland University women's basketball game last night and they had a moment of silence for Don Reinhart, a professor who passed away this week at age 78. The name seemed familiar but it was not until I got home and read his obit that I realized that he and his wife had done their student teaching at Osborn when I was in second or third grade. They were a good-looking charismatic couple (they were not yet married) and all the third grade girls were crushing on Don and all the boys on Janet. I'm sure we had student teachers every year but they were the memorable role models. I think my mother knew them from several education classes she had taken at AC.
20 January 2016
Workers from Baumann Enterprises Inc. of Garfield Heights began the
demolition of the more than 100-year-old Ashland Middle School on
Tuesday. The first part to come down was the McDowell Auditorium
entrance. The building was built as Ashland High School in 1915. A north
wing was added in 1922 and a south wing was constructed in 1924.
McDowell Auditorium was added in 1927.
Went downtown to check out the demo late this afternoon, it had been snowing all day. They are in effect tearing things down in the reverse order in which they were built. The new addition (only 70 years old) to the shop area was first and now they are going after the entrances on Church Street. They are also taking down much of the old Myers Plant so that area of town is going to look much different by springtime.
Downtown Ashland is an eerie Ghost World on a late winter afternoon. Only the courthouse shows much sign of life. On nice days I used to walk down 4th Street to Garber's after school and wait on the train tracks for my father to get off work, that was a bleak and depressing experience today. Like being the only person remaining on the planet. And for me a truly "you can't go home again" feeling.
click the above link to view more junior high photo sections
18 January 2016
My Fair Lady
Mad Cow Disease continues to erode away my brain cells, I rushed around this morning getting packages ready for the mailman only to realize in mid-afternoon that it is a postal holiday. One of the items was this "My Fair Lady" soundtrack album which was purchased from me today. It was one of the earliest remaining from my original record collection. A bit of irony as I purchased it in 1966 - a few months before we left Ashland, and I sold it a few months after returning to Ashland - 50 years later. My Fair Lady was the Ashland High School musical during my Sophomore year and I was apparently impressed enough to purchase the LP shortly after seeing the live performance.
Melanie Schussler, the older sister of a friend and the town's resident singing prodigy, really nailed it as Eliza Doolittle. Perhaps the best stage performance in the history of Ashland. Of course Eliza is a dream role with lots of cute songs and subtle comedy, yet she is not so totally the focus of the story that you grow weary of her on the stage. Eddie Highman was also excellent as her comical father. Saturday's paper said they were about to begin demo on the old Junior High School building, including McDowell Auditorium where all the past high school musicals were presented.
Click above for more on Ashland High School
10 January 2016
Planet Earth is blue and so am I. RIP
That dear friends is how the Terminal Tower in downtown Cleveland looked tonight. In high school a friend and I bypassed the access barrier and climbed the stairs to the very top. We got just above the spot where the base of the flag pole was mounted. At that time the offices on the top 30 or so floors appeared to be completely vacant.
And this link says it all better than I ever could.
It's the terror of knowing
What this world is about
Watching some good friends
Screaming, "Let me out!"
31 December 2015
Don't Fear the Reaper
(Great, but it needs more cowbell)
All our times have come
Here, but now they're gone
Seasons don't fear the reaper
Nor do the wind, the sun or the rain
(We can be like they are)
Gallery Celebrity Deaths 2015
Her contribution to the Partridge Family was playing "anything they put
in my hands," including a tambourine, triangle and cowbell.
A rough year for baby boomer icons leads to an odd confluence of thoughts to end the year - vaguely relating to death and cowbells. Suzanne Crough is one of those noted in the end-of-year "in memoriam" features that appeared today. She played Tracy Partridge, perhaps the most curious character in television history. The character was background filler, forgotten when the main characters attained almost instant mega-popularity status and never even remotely developed. The producers were stuck with the unwanted Tracy as they did not want to take dialogue or screen time away from the show's pop star characters. So Crough stayed around for the entire four seasons of the series just collecting a paycheck.
Link to Blue Oyster Cult
Come on baby
(Don't fear the reaper)
Baby take my hand
(Don't fear the reaper)
We'll be able to fly
(Don't fear the reaper)
Baby I'm your man
Then the door was open and the wind appeared
The candles blew and then disappeared
The curtains flew and then he appeared... saying don't be afraid
Come on baby... and she had no fear
And she ran to him... then they started to fly
They looked backward and said goodbye... she had become like they are
She had taken his hand... she had become like they are
Come on baby... don't fear the reaper
Flipping though my record collection it was strange in retrospect that I was among the first to the table with both Blue Oyster Cult and Led Zeppelin, I was too poor to buy many albums back in those days but I sprung for their first two within days of release.
2015 Christmas Newsletter
What a Long
Strange Year It's Been
Sometimes the light's all shinin' on me;
Other times I can barely see.
Lately it occurs to me - What a long, strange trip it's been.
Never has a song been so “dead-on” if you will excuse the
pun. December 2015 finds Jeff back at his point of origin, Ashland
Ohio, the home town I moved away from in 1966. I’ve
essentially been here since April although I did not actually get my house sold
in Alabama until August. I’m renting a duplex on a street two blocks east
of where I lived until 1st grade and two blocks west of where I
lived from 1st through 10th grade.
I needed to move enough stuff out of the Alabama house to
put it on the market and I needed to make good on my vow to return home – at
least for long enough to get it out of my system. Last March, what
with my old elementary school slated to be torn down in the coming
months, it was now or never as I knew that the town would not hold much
allure without the school. At this point I am undecided about the
future, throughout each day I find myself vacilating between
staying, moving to Dayton, or going back to Alabama. So stay
The return has afforded me the opportunity to assemble a
wealth of stories and photos associated with my days growing up and going to
school in Ashland which I am slowly putting on this website. So keep checking back.
This little adventure is along much the same lines as my
return to school as a full-time undergraduate back in 2003, with most of
my furniture again going into storage and life somehow becoming both simplier
and more interesting. As I devoured The Hunger Games Trilogy last week I
came to the realization that this back-to-school adventure had made a lasting
change in my identity. Hanging with a bunch of mellennials for two years
and being immersed in their pop-culture has apparently blended forever into my
baby-boomer indentity. Studing video production and graphic design with them
meant being shaped by the same group of films and media that were shaping
them. Nicely illustrated by this article:
19 October 2015
Polaroid Model 20 "Swinger"
A bit of a find today. Inside my old Thorndike-Barnhart Junior Dictionary I found eight Swinger photos I took in 1966-68. These are the only surviving photos from that camera, which I got for Christmas 1966. I was surprised to find them. Although I really wanted the camera at the time the expensive film soon relegated it to the closet shelf and the quick deterioration of the prints meant that most of them were trashed years ago; not entirely a bad thing as it was a 20-month period of unrelenting depression and reminders are not really welcome.
The Polaroid Model 20 "Swinger" was sold between 1965 and 1970. At $19.95 it was the first truly inexpensive instant camera,
a fact that helped fuel its enormous popularity and made it one of the
top-selling cameras of all time. The Swinger was especially successful
in the youth market due to its low price, stylish appearance, and catchy
"Meet the Swinger" jingle sung by Barry Manilow in a television advertisement featuring a young Ali MacGraw.
The Swinger featured an extinction exposure meter tied to the aperture which displayed the word "YES" in a window below the viewfinder when the exposure was set correctly. The Swinger also included a built-in flashgun for AG-1 flashbulbs.
The Swinger used Polaroid's 20-Series roll film, which was the first Polaroid roll film to develop outside the camera.
The image size was only 2-1/8" x 2-7/8", really too small given that the cheap lens was designed to take very wide shots - the idea being that everything but a macro shot would be in focus. Wide shots meant the subject became distant and the frame full of surrounding objects - meaning there would be too much scene to be adequately viewed on such a small print.
Almost 50 years later the other huge defect is nicely illustrated by the above photo. I have brightened it up a bit in Photoshop because it had become too dark over the years - despite never being exposed to light during that time. The image had to be "fixed" with a gel or it would fade completely, any portion with only a thin coating of gel would eventually disappear as well - as seen in certain parts of this example. A quick application of the gel was usually uneven and Polaroid was too interested in promoting the ease of operation to emphasize the care that must be taken to evenly apply sufficient gel with a longer drying time.
Click here for additional swinger photos
Wed Sep 23, 2015 4:21am EDT
Baseball legend Yogi Berra dies aged 90
Lawrence Peter Berra, known to the world as Yogi,
was a tough catcher and a feared clutch hitter who helped the Yankees
dominate baseball from 1947 to 1963.
Yogi was certainly a part of any sports oriented Baby Boomer's childhood, although he had not yet started to say interesting things - or at least we weren't hearing about them in Ohio. He played for the hated Yankees yet by 1959 was on the downside of his career so to us he was more a goofy looking phenomenon than someone for the Indians to fear. 1956 was his last great year. He played about 2/3 of the time from 1958 to 1961 and then hung on for a couple more years as a clubhouse presence. We regarded Elston Howard as the feared Yankee catcher during my baseball card collecting years.
I include this card from 1961 because I recall when first seeing it that I was absolutely shocked that the guy had been the MVP three out of five years in the early 1950's. Although not as shocked as Mike Brucato and I were in 1959 to discover that a Ted Williams card set had been issued, we had heard of the guy but had no clue about the significance of this career.
23 August 2015
You'll find it at the (Ashland) Y.M.C.A.
An afternoon walk brought me to the "Y", and curiosity about what remained of this building from my era caused me to walk around the outside of the strange structure that now stands on this spot. The facility was closed for its annual week-long clean-up and the director was outside spreading a tarp on the grassy hill leading to the athletic field in the rear - for draining out the swimming pool. I was able to go inside where her husband showed me around. It turns out that what you see in this postcard still exists, but is almost totally covered up by the assortment of additions that have been constructed over the years. He took me into a small meeting room in the front of the facility where the old 1955 cornerstone (in the lower right of the postcard) has been left exposed.
21 August 2015
A rough week for Baby Boomer males as we lost yet another of our 1960's fantasy girls yesterday, just four days after the passing of Yvonne Craig. Melody was a baby boomer herself, born in 1949. She was just sixteen during the first episodes of F-Troop; far more obvious in retrospect than at the time.
Now this was a pro-family message.
Although we did not realize it at the time, having the second Mrs. Baxter look sexier than anyone on television sent a powerful subliminal message.
Finally getting around to recognizing the passing of another of my 60's icons last March.
Click Here For Lynn's Obituary
The school district filled the gym with discards from the other schools. A final indignity.
19 June 2015
Harry A. Fulton
"The Dean of School Architects"
Osborn School staircase where form
perfectly follows function
Click the link for more about the architect and his design of Ashland's most significant architectural achievement:
Nothing says "Ashland Junior High School" better than this 2015 eye-level photo of the courtyard. When I rode my bicycle to school in the early 1960's I would park it in this courtyard chained to one of those railings. It looks exactly the same except for needing a coat of paint and except for the middle school initials on the painted windows to the girls' locker room. Center and right is the original 1915 high school, on the left is the new gym and the auditorium which were added on in 1926. The gym was actually built on top of the basement and heating plant of the first Ashland High School which served as the Junior High from 1915 to 1925. Then as now the courtyard is one of my favorite features of the school, perhaps because there is no attempt whatsoever at pretense.
For more discussion of these topics click on the purple link above the photo.
11 June 2015
"Free Will vs Destiny"
(or the Linda Wharton story)
Back in 2003, the Class of 1968 reunion committee contacted me about the "In Memoriam" display they were assembling for the upcoming reunion. At that point the growing list consisted of 20 deceased classmates. They had solicited living class members for personal memories of each of the 20, which was to be displayed at the upcoming reunion. But given the homogeneous nature of those who typically participate in this sort of thing, there were several deceased classmates as yet unaccounted for. One of these was Linda Wharton who has always headed the class "In Memoriam" list, as she was killed in a car accident outside Fitchville the summer between 10th and 11th grades. As my time with the Class of 1968 was likewise severed that same summer I have always felt a connection to her. Click below for more on this topic:
Big day yesterday as I was able to wander around inside Osborn and inside the Junior High with my camera. I will link to the photos and will save the junior high story for later.
Please bear with me as i indulge my mystical side. Last Friday I returned to the Osborn school grounds at sunset, a few hours after I had watched the last recess. Something seemed to draw me down there again and I am within easy walking distance. There were still three kids in the orange shirts on the playground, but the building was empty and locked up for the night. I felt the nurturing and protective force that has always emanated from the building flow to me as I stood there, as it did 50+ years ago each time I returned to the near empty school building from my afternoon safety patrol shifts to pick up my books before walking home.
Yesterday, as I wandered around inside that feeling was missing, although I was so preoccupied that I initially did not notice its absence. I would like to think that it was ready to leave at the close of what was its last official day of business, but that it waited around a few hours to say a final individual goodbye. Perhaps it left as I turned up Liberty Street and went out of sight around the corner as I walked home. Of course I want to believe that the spirit of the building has moved on, mostly because it makes it easier for me to deal with the physical loss of the school. Or maybe I just need to get a life, I suspect that being a virtual orphan these days has left me craving a protective entity.
"The tale is told. The world moves on, the sun shines as brightly as
before, the flowers bloom as beautifully, the birds sing their carols as
sweetly, the trees nod and bow their leafy tops as if slumbering in the
breeze, the gentle winds fan our brow and kiss our cheek as they pass
by, the pale moon sheds her silvery sheen, the blue dome of the sky
sparkles with the trembling stars that twinkle and shine and make night
beautiful, and the scene melts and gradually disappears forever."
Sam R. Watkins
29 May 2015
Just returned from a walk over to Osborn School. Today was their last day of classes for the school year, the end of the last school year the building will be used. The kids were all out in the playground area wearing bright orange t-shirts that said "Osborn School 1923 - 2015"; many of them gathered in the shade of the back wall where we used to shoot marbles. I spoke to one of the staff who was also wearing one of shirts. I told her that my father had started at Osborn in 1926 and that I had attended K to 6 from 1955 to 1962. IMHO Osborn has always been the best school in the system, a quality that I attribute to something magical about the building. Very sad moment for me but I felt that I owned it to the old girl to be here on the final day of classes and the final recess. Which might explain why I was so intent on spending this summer in Ashland while my realtor deals with selling my house in Alabama.
That same patch of playground has been used for recess for 92 years. I never dreamed when I went in that door in September 1955 that I would be standing there 60 years later on the school's last day of community service.
About halfway down in my 2013 blog is the "Perfect Day" entry, which rather nicely describes someone's perfect day. In much the same way the week of May 2nd to May 8th qualifies as my first ever perfect week, or at least the week of the most varied range of experiences - certainly not the type of week many who are pushing 65 are likely to experience. It began at about 4AM Saturday morning when I departed for Ashland with a carload of stuff including my main computer. The 546 mile drive was basically nonstop and I arrived in Ashland in time for a sunset walk around the old Duff Field and along the streets of my old paper route. This was my first chance to actually explore Ashland on foot as I was too busy for this during my two day U-Haul visit in April. The weather was perfect and the baby boomer memories were cascading. Can't actually call it a move yet because I am still living in Alabama - working to get my house ready to hit the market during the prime selling season.
On Monday May 4th I drove up to Kent for the 45th anniversary commemoration ceremony. Another rush of emotions as in many ways Kent State was the most important event in my life, although I think it was more validation than revelation. I think that I had long identified with the rebellion shown in "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner" which came out when I was in Junior High - I understood the ending and absolutely connected with the main character (still do), I just didn't know how it had shaped my world view until May 4, 1970. The shootings were the most popular murders in the history of the country and the continuing failure to punish those responsible provides an ongoing commentary on the myth that the average citizen places any real value on being part of a society that proudly tolerates dissent.
Click here for the Kent State page
Interestingly I have only visited the memorial four times (1973, 1990, 2003, and today) and each time has been during a point of crisis or remake in my life. During the 2003 visit (I was actually there for some Miami softball games) I knew that I was going back to school and had ditched my career. And it occurred to me that I was so lucky to have a chance to embark on a second life, in contrast to the four murdered students. That same thought came back to me Monday, as I begin a third life. But at least in the intervening years I have found something to help me manage my anger:
“Anger and resentment can
stop you in your tracks. That’s what I know now. It needs nothing to
burn but the air and the life that it swallows and smothers. It’s real,
though – the fury, even when it isn’t. It can change you… turn you… mold
you and shape you into something you’re not. The only upside to anger,
then… is the person you become. Hopefully someone that wakes up one day
and realizes they’re not afraid to take the journey, someone that knows
that the truth is, at best, a partially told story. That anger, like
growth, comes in spurts and fits, and in its wake, leaves a new chance
at acceptance, and the promise of calm. Then again, what do I know? I’m
only a child.”
Lavender “Popeye" Wolfmeyer
Another all-day drive on Wednesday put me back in Huntsville for the state high school softball Regionals. The second day (Friday) went until almost midnight, the delayed start of Sparkman's championship game meant that the games on the other five diamonds were over a hour or more before ours concluded. 14 hours of almost constant softball viewing. The state championships will begin in Montgomery on Wednesday.
9 April 2015
Lazy - LiteGreat Art Deco night light
for a child's bedroom, it is called a "Lazy-Lite". You push down on the
end of the shade where you want to light that side, the shade itself is the switch and
rocks back and forth to turn either light. Marked on the bottom
Hungerford Lazy-Lite. Made of
molded pink plastic.
The past few weeks I've been using all my energy to construct the Ashland and Jeromesville sub-pages, so just in case anyone thought I had given up the blog here is a bit of 50's nostalgia.
Perhaps my earliest memory of an object, this is both a night light and a wind up music box; I had an identical one in my bedroom. The music box has a wind up "key" on the
bottom. The dome has raised nursery rhyme
figures, I think it played "Away In the Manger". About 5" high x 7 1/2" long.
27 February 2015
The Ewing's Of East Walnut Street
This is my favorite photo of my Aunt Carol (the one on the right) and one of the few childhood photos of her where she is NOT holding a cat. She graduated from Ashland High School in 1950 so I'll let you date the photo.
24 February 2015
Suzy, dear Suzy,
What stirs in the straw?
The prettiest goslings
That you ever saw;
But narry a gosling
Has stocking or shoe;
Now what will our
Poor little goslings do?
Send for the shoemaker,
To him we'll say,
"Could you make some shoes
For our goslings today?"
The cobbler has leather,
But no last to use,
So our little goslings
Must go without shoes.
Another song from childhood that popped into my head this morning. The only part I remembered was the final four lines and I remembered it as "but no less to use" and "but no less to lose", the former being what I thought it was when I first learned it and the latter probably the impact of time on my memory. I never understood the meaning of that line. But it makes sense if the word was last (not less) because a last is a pattern form that has a shape similar to that of a foot. It is used by shoemakers in the manufacture and repair of shoes. It would not surprise me if our whole class and sang it as "no less to use" but no teacher picked up on our mistake and confusion.
16 February 20151936 Great Lakes Exposition
OK, you got me. What does an event from 1936 have to do with Baby Boomers? We were not even a gleam in our fathers' eye - although my father was 15 in 1936 and on occasion probably had a gleam in his eye. I include it because I just found some stuff about it and it was an interesting but long forgotten event. I'll justify it by saying that during my childhood trips to see the Indians play at Municipal Stadium I had occasion to wonder about the huge paved parking lot stretching out to the East from the center field gate, seeming to run for several miles along the shore of Lake Erie; and the odd little park outside the left field side of the structure. Now the old stadium is gone and the Science Center stands on that parking lot, with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame occupying the area in the distance. What I did not know back then was that this huge stretch of asphalt had been the site of a large regional exposition less than two decades before I was born. I do recall a small historical marker about this in the old parking lot but otherwise there was no tangible indication of the location's relatively recent history.
Click here for more:
11 February 2015
24 January 2015
1959 Topps Hal Woodeshick #106
"Mr. Cub" Ernie Banks, the Hall of Fame slugger and two-time MVP who
never lost his boundless enthusiasm for baseball despite years of
playing on losing Cubs teams, died Friday night.
Greeted with this headline today I found myself flashing back 55 years to my salient Ernie Banks moment.
Card #350 - a disappointing 3rd Place in the 1959 Duff Drive baseball card draft.
In our Ashland neighborhood, baseball and football card collecting first arrived in a big way during the summer of 1959, when most of us were eight and nine years old. 1959 was the third summer for most of us in the neighborhood - the streets had been developed in 1955-56 and most families moved in at that time. Why this hobby did not hit us in 1957 or 1958 I do not know, why it hit so big in 1959 was probably just a need to first attain a critical mass. Little did we know at the time that by a bit of life's serendipity the 1959 baseball cards were destined to become the most important and lasting images of our youth. In those days Topps released cards by series, with the lower number cards released in the spring and the higher numbers released gradually during the course of the season. Our collecting did not take off until summer and by that point the stores had sold their supply of boxes containing low number cards. So all of us had a good supply of high number cards, some middle number cards, and just a handful of low number cards.
For more about our 1959 baseball card collecting adventures and the significance of Hal Woodeshick click the above link.
18 January 2015
It's Rex Manning Day!
I heard you on the wireless back in Fifty Two
Lying awake intent at tuning in on you
If I was young it didn't stop you coming through
They took the credit for your second symphonyAnd now we meet in an abandoned studio
Rewritten by machine and new technology
and now I understand the problems you can see
I met your children
What did you tell them?
Video killed the radio star
Video killed the radio star
Pictures came and broke your heart
We hear the playback and it seems so long ago
And you remember the jingles used to go
You were the first one
You were the last one
In my mind and in my car
We can't rewind we've gone to far
"Buggles group member Trevor Horn has said that his lyrics were inspired
by the J.G. Ballard short story The Sound-Sweep, in which the title
character, a mute boy vacuuming up stray music in a world without it,
comes upon an opera singer hiding in a sewer.
He also felt "an era was about to pass." The theme of the song is thus
nostalgia, which is also echoed in the tone of the music. The lyrics
refer to a period of technological change in the 1960s, the desire to
remember the past and the disappointment that children of the current
generation would not appreciate the past. In the 1950s and early 1960s,
radio was an important medium for many, through which "stars" were
The Sound-Sweep was first published in Science Fantasy
, Volume 13, Number 39, February 1960“The Sound-Sweep,”
J. G. Ballard, 1960 — Ultrasonic music is the new fashion and
phonographs and live performances are a thing of the past. It is a
world where the echoes of music remain in their concert halls, where
conversations are preserved in the walls and floors, and “sound sweeps”
use sonovacs to clean up the past, often at the request of those fearing
blackmail or noise pollution. Madame Gioconda, the aging and discarded
opera star, and Mangon, a mute “sound sweep” enjoy an unlikely
friendship, one Mangon desperately hopes is real, as he loves the
decaying but once magnificent diva. When Gioconda finds a way for
Mangon to help her reclaim her fame through a comeback performance,
Mangon feels the depth of her trust in him and suddenly regains his
voice. The night before her comeback, a rival asks Mangon to “sound
sweep” her during the performance for her own good, as she doesn’t
realize that her voice has lost its beauty. Mangon refuses, still
loyal, and tries to reach her, but she has packed up her apartment and
abandoned him in anticipation of her impending success. A brutal
message of sound has been left in the wall for him to “read”: “GO AWAY
YOU UGLY CHILD! NEVER TRY TO SEE ME AGAIN!” Mangon attends her
performance as planned, but he destroys his sonovac so that her
caterwalling will be heard by all.
If you got the Rex Manning Day reference you are probably a boomer in spirit who like me connected deeply with Alan Moyle's "Empire Records". Although a 1995 film it evokes certain flower child values and a childlike wish that such a place existed. "Video Killed the Radio Star" plays as the store employees prepare for the arrival of music video personality Rex Manning.
11 January 2015
"Thunderball" was released in late 1965, so it is (amazingly) approaching its 50th anniversary. I had seen all the Bond movies and read all the books at this point. This is my favorite image from the franchise and probably led to my decision to purchase a BSA Lightning a few years later - without the RPG tubes on the fairing.
Luciana Paluzzi was born on June 10, 1937 in Rome, Lazio, Italy and was a serious actress despite often being cast in this sort of fluff. But she is hands down my favorite Bond Girl; red hair - bad girl - leather, what's not to like? See more Luciana photos here:
1 January 2015
The inspiration for starting this site two years ago was the death of Bonnie Fields, my childhood crush on the Mickey Mouse Club. With the passing of 2014 it seems appropriate to feature those baby boomer related celebrities who we lost since last New Year's Day. For more Bonnie stuff click the U-Tube link to see Bonnie's first appearance on Talent Round-Up Day or go to the 2013 blog entries and scroll down to the first entry in January 2013.
For no reason other than the season (I assume) this song has been running through my head all day. I was not sure of the entire song or where I heard it but it turns out that Doris Day released it 50 years ago, and it turns out that my memory of the lyrics was amazingly accurate.
Music: Victor Herbert
Lyrics: Glen MacDonough
When you've grown up, my dears,
And are as old as I,
You'll often ponder on the years
That roll so swiftly by,
My dears, that roll so swiftly by,
And of the many lands
You will have journeyed through,
You'll oft recall
The best of all
The land your childhood knew!
Your childhood knew!
Little girl and boyland,
While you dwell within it,
You are ever happy then.
Mystic merry Toyland!
Once you pass its borders you can ne'ver return again!
When you've grown up, my dears,
There comes a dreary day
When 'mid the locks of black appears
The first pale gleam of gray,
My dears, the first pale gleam of gray
Then of the past you'll dream
As grayhaired grownups do,
And seek once more
Its phantom shore,
The land your childhood knew!
Your childhood knew!
Herbert was long gone before us baby boomers were even born but Disney brought some of his music to us in their 1961 "Babes In Toyland" movie.
9 December 2014
Yesterday the Ohio Senate passed a bill legalizing the use
of bottle rockets, firecrackers and other consumer-grade fireworks in
Ohio despite hearing earlier in the day from doctors, firefighters and
safety advocates who oppose the measure.
Some were concerned by testimony from doctors and safety advocates about the dangers of fireworks
The bill's opponents said about half of all those injured by fireworks
are bystanders who did not choose to set off the explosives.It is a first-degree misdemeanor for unlicensed individuals to
discharge fireworks in Ohio or to possess the goods after they should
have been taken out of the state. First-time offenders face fines up to
$1,000 and six months in jail.
Senate President Keith Faber,
a Celina Republican, said fireworks regulation has evolved over the
years and the bill ensures only "regulated, approved" fireworks will be
allowed in Ohio. The bill also allows counties and townships to ban the
fireworks or restrict dates and times when fireworks could be set off. "We're all for safety but we also want to make sure that we give
personal liberty an option as well," Faber told reporters after the
I only mention this because it means that my two biggest childhood wishes have come true, although in this case too late for me to get maximum enjoyment. The two things I wanted most of all in 1960 was my own private collection of movies (complete with screening equipment) and for Ohio to legalize fireworks. I got my first wish years ago with the introduction of Beta and VHS tapes. To learn about a fairly typical Ohio baby boomer's fireworks history click on this link:
22 November 2014
Penny (Gloria Winters) passed away in 2010 at age 78. She was not really a baby boomer but was certainly a fixture of our television viewing. I have to agree with this U-Tube comment although I don't recall it being that noticeable until Yvonne Craig appeared as Batgirl. "Penny was bound and gagged in a number of Sky King episodes. Television
drama shows in the 1950s often depicted people tied up .... I suspect many
of the writers on these shows were bondage lovers..."https://www.youtube.com/watchSkyKing
2 November 2014
I never owned a Schwinn Mark II Jaguar, pictured on this 1957 Dell comic book back cover. I put it on here as a shameless plug for the bicycle write-up on the pages of my 2013 blog, click "here" and then scroll down to the February 5, 2013 entry. My Schwinn Traveler was simply a stripped down version of this 1957 Jaguar with even more flashy chrome and the same performance issues - namely too heavy for any normal purpose other than riding on cinder paths where it was more stable than a lighter bike with narrow tires. And there were a lot more cinder paths sixty years ago than there are today because home furnaces and factories burned coal. Schwinn had reached their dominance with the baby boomer generation by marketing rather than by engineering. But say what you will about the company their bikes were a good value simply because of their durability, baby boomers grew out of their Schwinn - they never wore out their Schwinn.
This great ad is from a 1960 comic, the bike is basically a girls' version of my Schwinn Traveler with the same medium size tires and the chrome fenders; and probably the same price my father paid to put me in the rider's seat. It was an amazing amount of money for him to spend on me, I think it was a birthday present when I turned eleven, as I recall riding it to both Osborn and to the Junior High School. Note the green logo highlight on the grips - the Traveler grips had this in red, it was a prestige thing as the less expensive models did not highlight the molded Schwinn logo.
I don't recall any girls in our school owning one of these "Fair Ladies" which probably meant there were none as the similarities would have made it memorable to me. In our town girls were not big bike riders, especially after age ten, although it was a girl who first taught me how to ride a bicycle and I learned on hers - learning to ride was much easier on a girls' bike because they were much easier to step off. The "American Picker" guys say that girls' bikes are worth less than boys' bikes because the girls took better care of them although it would seem to me that the production runs for the girls' models must have been much lower than for the boys.
29 October 2014
Click here for the page on this story.
7 July 2014
My Readjustment Blues In Greensboro
I spent last Friday in Kentucky, and the 4th of July celebration in Bowling Green got me thinking of how it has been 39 years since I
spent the summer in Greensboro, North Carolina (including July 4th 1975), sharing
the second floor of a house on Mendenhall Street between the two
colleges and taking Macroeconomics & Sociology 101. I had driven down from New York
(I had been discharged that January and had spent the spring semester at
Cornell) and I found a notice in the student union from two guys
needing someone to rent their 3rd bedroom for the summer. Amazingly the
house had no air conditioning and we had no television set; we just
kept the windows open, fans blowing, and the stereo playing Jethro Tull
and Elton John. The house backed up on a Greensboro College dorm (#7
on the attached map) and I spent a lot of my time in their lounge, which
was far cooler than our house and had a television set. I just acted
like I belonged there and took books with me to study, nobody
questioned my hanging around.
This was the summer when I sold the old 190SL Mercedes that took Ashland friend Brian Linke and I around
Europe in 1974 (well technically just France, Monaco, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and Holland). I had an ad in Road & Track magazine but ended up
selling it to a milkman in Greensboro after I listed it in the
Greensboro paper. So if you see a right-hand drive Mercedes cruising
around North Carolina, it very likely is the one I brought back from England. Interestingly, with Brian staying on my tiny base in Bedfordshire England, we had three guys who had been roaming around Ashland Junior High School just a few years earlier; as Marc Robbins was also assigned there.
Click here for discussion of my Mercedes-190SL
20 June 2014
NellybelleI did not own this pedal car and cannot swear with complete certainty that I played in one of them, but the little roll bar and the other details seem quite familiar so I am 90% certain that someone I knew had one. They were not around long, probably coming out toward the end of "Roy Rogers" television show, which ended production in 1957. There was no space between Nelly and Belle although both spellings are common. Interesting that Pat Brady and Roy Rogers were both Ohioans. Click below for more:
14 May 2014
It's A Daisy
click here for my Daisy BB gun story
21 March 2014:
My Radio Flyer was a "Rex Jet"Antonio Pasin started building wooden toy wagons in Chicago in 1917, selling them to area shops. His business grew until the Liberty Coaster Company, named in honour of the Statue of Liberty was formed in 1923. In 1930, the company was renamed Radio Steel & Manufacturing. The renamed company produced steel-bodied wagons and used assembly line manufacturing techniques. The new Radio Flyer wagons were named for Pasin's fascination with radio and with flight.
Click this link for more pages of this story:
My Rex Jet Wagon
9 February 2014:
Fifty years ago today,
on Feb. 9, 1964, via “The Ed Sullivan Show,” America met the Beatles.
The Beatles would have happened here whether they played “The Ed
Sullivan Show” or not. Indeed, for many the only reason the show is
remembered is that the Beatles were on it, but they might not have
happened so explosively, so definitively, so fast. Their first
appearance on the show, which they opened and closed, was estimated to
have been seen by a record-breaking 73 million viewers, or one in three
Americans, and they appeared the next week as well, remote from Miami
Beach, and the week after that, on videotape.
Not everyone who
watched was converted, of course. If they were relatively friendly
revolutionaries, with their pressed suits and bemused grins,
professional politesse and malt-shop lyrics, they were revolutionaries
nonetheless. Their energy was fearsome, their wit sharp and their hair,
by local standards, was for some confusingly long.
Click this link for more pages of this story:
29 January 2014:
Little Rita Rosebud
"Tubby is devastated when he can't afford to attend
Little Rita Rosebud's stage show". Script by John Stanley, art by
If you search for "Little Rita Rosebud" on the internet, this is the only link other than a comic book character index. Think about the implications of that, it means out of the billions of people on the planet I am the only one with enough interest in the story (my all-time favorite) and in the internet to post something about this material, the reinforcement of our uniqueness is perhaps the most significant thing about the internet. Jeff is weird!
Little Rita Rosebud
Click this link for more pages of this story:
26 January 2014: Brewster McCloud
This has been on my list of top ten films since I first saw it 40+ years ago. It withholds at lot from the initial viewing and you discover something new each time you watch it.
The film has references to other films, Altman's own work, and other places. Altman refers to Bullitt (1969) by including a character named Frank Shaft, who is a detective from San Francisco. The name may have inspired the name of Richard Roundtree's "John Shaft" character, in a more subtle parody from 1971 ("he just took my man Leroy and threw him out the God damn window").
Homages to The Wizard of Oz (1939) have been noted in the film, as Margaret Hamilton, who played the Wicked Witch of the West, is the music conductor seen during the opening credits. She is seen wearing ruby slippers in the film. Hope (Jennifer Salt)
who supplies Brewster with health food, resembles Dorothy, as she wears
a distinctive gingham dress, has pigtails and carries a basket. At the
end of the film, she is shown in the cast as Dorothy carrying Toto.
Shelley Duvall (below) plays a Raggedy Ann airhead character (without Luna Lovegood's redeeming qualities) and actually appears as a Raggedy Ann clown in the final scene.
The coolest of all the images from the 60's-70's, this one was right in the middle of that period as Altman's film was made in 1970, just after he made "MASH".
Click above for full review.
22 January 2014: Harper Valley P.T.A.
Harper Valley P.T.A.
Click above for full story.
12 January 2014: "Back On That Old Bipolar Pony"
Evan's "King of California" character actually says: "Time to get on that old bipolar pony and ride"; which seems an appropriate ("polar" duh) title for a discussion of greenhouses and of global warming, as well as a nice title for my first blog entry of the new year. So click on this link and prepare to be both informed and entertained:
Click above for full story.
City and civil rights leaders in Birmingham unveiled the “Four Spirits”
statue in Kelly Ingram Park Saturday memorializing the victims of the
16th Street Baptist Church bombing, one day before the 50th anniversary
of that tragedy. On Sept. 15, 1963, a bomb placed by Ku Klux Klansman exploded before
Sunday services killing four girls – 14-year-olds Addie Mae Collins,
Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley and 11-year-old Denise McNair. The
bombing shocked the public, helping lead to passage of the Civil Rights
Act a year later. However, other than a plaque on the side of the
church there has been no permanent memorial to the victims in