All posts by Larry Chapman

A retired educator, historian, writer, blogger, teller of tales including the occasional lie, saltwater angler, traveler, political junkie, technology geek, optimist, pessimist, wanna' be chef, and lover of independent thinkers. 2011 recipient of the Professor Irwin Corey Foremost Authority Award and resident curmudgeon of Worley Mill Rd.

It’s Just Too Soon to Predict

Click photo to view entire graphic.

It’s almost impossible to avoid all the political speculation that appears on our media boxes these days. But, I really do make a point of trying to avoid it. The talking heads on TV and talk radio make good money reading their crystal balls but they’re rarely correct. Guessing who the American people are going to give the key to the White House is one of those, it ain’t over till the large lady sings, things.

Simple truth struck home again last week with some information that appeared several places in national news coverage and online. On September 22, 2007 the Continue reading It’s Just Too Soon to Predict

Click on “Recommend” and Help Me Become Rich, Please!

Since changing to this more interactive WordPress format this site’s visitor count has reached close to twelve thousand hits. That’s not too shabby for what is basically a website of mainly local interest and in just over two months.

You can help us spread the word by just clicking the “Recommend” button that accompanies each article. For the Recommend button to work you must have a Facebook account and clicking on the button will send a message to your Facebook friends News Feed Page stating that you recommend that particular article.

The more hits, the more attention the site attracts. And if the site attracts enough attention I’ll be able to obtain commercial advertisers and then sell it to a major corporation like Arianna Huffington did with the Huffington Post and become a multi-millionaire. Not!!!

Crazies to the Left of Me, Crazies to the Right

Paragons of opposing ideologies, Roger Moore & Bill O'Reilly.

Michael Moore is a paragon of liberalism in America while Bill O’Reilly is a paragon of conservatism. You know what they have in common? They both require full-time, twenty-four/seven, professional security services to keep them safe from the crazies running around in America.

This observation comes from having recently read a Newsweek article about Moore’s need to hire former Navy Seals as body guards and a second article about O’Reilly’s new book on American History. The author of that article mentioned he and O’Reilly being accompanied by armed security guards as they went to lunch.

It is quite possible that O’Reilly has interviewed Moore face to face. If such a meeting has taken place I’m sure it did would not have required the presence of armed body guards. It is quite possible for two persons of greatly differing views to discuss their differences without resorting to Jerry Springer style physical brouhahas. Barack Obama and George W. Bush have demonstrated many times that they being in the same room with each other doesn’t require bouncers Continue reading Crazies to the Left of Me, Crazies to the Right

My Version of a Southern Red Piggy-back Dog

Beauty on a bun!

As many of you know, I’ve been searching for the perfect barbecue dish for decades. Several years ago, at a blues festival, I came across a food vendor selling something he called the Red Piggy-Back Dog. It consisted of a Carolina red (lots of red food coloring) pork and beef hot dog, topped with pulled pork BBQ and a good vinegar based slaw. It absolutely satisfied the essential requirements for a meal worth remembering.

During a recent vacation to Holden Beach, NC I picked up several packs of Carolina red dogs and brought them home. Earlier this week I conjured up some tasty pork shoulder meat in a crock pot with honey-mustard marinade sauce, guava nectar, and chipotle adobo chili sauce. We used this shredded concoction for the base of some great grilled quesadillas. Continue reading My Version of a Southern Red Piggy-back Dog

Addendum: Photos of Ashling’s Hardware

When writing the recent article about traditional hardware stores, specifically Ashling’s Hardware in Greenfield, Ohio, I was unable to find suitable photographs to go with the story. Since then I have located two photos, one of the store’s exterior and the other an interior view showing from left to right, employees Mary Williams Baxla, Jim Fagan, Ray Ashling, and founder, Louis H. Ashling. I believe these photos are circa 1940s or early 1950s.

I also want to mention other long-time employees that included, Lee Bartley, Russell Kerr and his son, Bill Kerr.

 

If You Think You’re Middle-Class, You Probably Aren’t. Take This Simple Test

So you think you’re middle-class. I’ve already written several pieces about America’s disappearing middle-class but many Americans still cling to the notion that they remain in the middle-class. I’ve done a little homework and I’m beginning to wonder if many of those who think they are/were in the middle ever actually were.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is my family’s gross income close to $50,000 annually?
  2. Is my family’s income secure? Can we count on it being there tomorrow and many tomorrows in the future?
  3. Do we own our own home or are able to meet the mortgage payments with little difficulty?
  4. Is the neighborhood we live in safe?
  5. Do we own at least one dependable vehicle?
  6. Are we able to save enough for our children’s college tuition?
  7. Are we able to save enough for retirement?
  8. Do we have enough disposable income for a few frills?

 

A single income family in 1970 had more discretionary income than a dual income family in the 2000s. By the way, the average 1970s family didn’t earn over $40k and the average today does not earn $75k.

If you’re having trouble answering these questions in the affirmative you’re probably not middle-class. If you’ve never been able to answer yes to these questions then you’ve most likely never been middle-class. According to an ABC News poll in 2010, “45 percent of Americans define themselves as middle class (very similar to a CNN poll that year). They earned about $55,000 a year, compared with about $95,000 for those who defined themselves as above the middle class…” How one sees perceives their situation is often quite different than reality. The anorexic looks in the mirror and sees a fat person.

Continue reading If You Think You’re Middle-Class, You Probably Aren’t. Take This Simple Test

Our Fading Middle-Class, More Proof!

Our hourglass economy, not much middle!

I recently wrote about the shrinking Shrinking American middle-class and since that piece appeared the word on the street hasn’t gotten better. According to the Wall Street Journal and Salon.com major manufacturers of consumer products are “bifurcating” their product lines. In simple terms, they are restructuring their marketing in ways to appeal to two different markets separated by income. In this case, the true middle and upper classes and the growing lower middle-class and poor.

For generations Proctor and Gamble marketed its consumer product line to the growing middle-class in America. Today, however, P&G is an example of a company becoming more aware of the divide in incomes and that yesterday’s middle-class are seeking more affordable alternatives. Accordingly, the company is developing Continue reading Our Fading Middle-Class, More Proof!

Ain’t Nothin’ Like an Old Fashioned Benevolent Theocrat!

Saudi Arabia is one of the strictest theocracies in the world, especially towards women. Women aren’t permitted to appear in public unless fully covered and without a male escort. At the moment they can’t vote or run for public office. They are not permitted to drive a car and one of the few moments of freedom permitted is the occasional trip to a women’s only shopping mall. Of course, one must be wealthy enough to hire transportation and the money to afford what’s being offered in these places.

A couple of months ago a group of Saudi women rebelled and took to the streets behind the wheel of their husband’s automobiles. One of the movement’s leaders was found guilty of violating Saudi’s strict religiously based laws and punished to 10 lashes of the whip, a public flogging.  Continue reading Ain’t Nothin’ Like an Old Fashioned Benevolent Theocrat!

When Does Old Age Begin?

I don’t know when old age begins but maybe this is a clue. I woke up yesterday morning with a head cold. I went to the medicine cabinet and saw a small box containing several double packets of orange gel-caps. I assumed they were Vick’s DayQuil capsules so I opened up one packet and took the two orange gel-caps. Nothing happened. All morning long my nasal passages continued to leak profusely.

Continue reading When Does Old Age Begin?

Daniels Brother’s Pool Room, Reprised

There’s been lots of nostalgic discussion about Greenfield of the 50s and 60s on Facebook. Several times it has included questions about Daniels Brother’s Pool Room so I decided to reprint a column I originally wrote for the Times-Gazette newspaper back in October of 2002.

8-ball in the corner pocket!

There are lots of men my age who have fond memories of the Daniels Brothers poolroom, which was once an important part of life in Greenfield. The establishment was owned and operated by Pearl and Ernie Daniels and was everything great poolrooms used to be.

It was a male bastion where young men learned the ways of old men. It was truly “men only”, as women were required to Continue reading Daniels Brother’s Pool Room, Reprised

Lay Off the Class Warfare Rhetoric and Get Real

Warren Buffett, "My class is winning." For the first decade of the 21st century the Republican party controlled the Presidency for eight straight years and both houses of the Congress for most of that time. Given that, how can GOP leader, Paul Ryan, come before the nation and claim Obama’s policies are creating class warfare?

America today is a nation divided many ways but especially about who gets the big piece of the pie. As I and others have stated before, one-percent of the people have over forty-percent of the nation’s wealth. Much of that disparity results from tax cuts, tax rates, tax policy, and neglected tax regulation fostered during the eight years of George W. Bush.

The story on America’s middle-class is, at best, one of stagnation. A greater truth is that it’s increasingly disappearing. For decades, America’s middle-class was the world’s Continue reading Lay Off the Class Warfare Rhetoric and Get Real

But I Don’t Need 5 lbs. of Nails!

One of the things I don’t like about today’s world is the loss of the “old fashion” hardware store. The place in every town where one could go and buy a heavy brown paper bag containing the five or six sixteen-penny nails they needed and not the five pounds that come in a big box at the big box store.

Louis H. Ashling, founder of long-time Greenfield business, Ashling's Hardware.

In my home town, Greenfield, Ohio, we once had two fully stocked hardware stores and two fully stocked lumber yards who also carried a good selection of nuts, bolts, nails, and fence staples. Today we still have a hardware store but too much of what they sell comes in pre-packaged blister packs and you can’t buy just one cup hook, you have to buy three, or whatever’s hermetically sealed in a plastic bubble that often requires a sharp pocket knife and a couple of Band-Aids to open.

Ashling’s Hardware was my store of choice, mainly because the owner was the grandfather of two of my best friends and Mr. Ashling sold sporting goods and would let us kids buy stuff on credit. We could buy a new ball glove and Continue reading But I Don’t Need 5 lbs. of Nails!