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 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?

Things I Hate at Rock Concerts

O.K., I know the title to my post sucks. I tried to think of something witty to no avail. So, I just went straight to the point, which is my usual modus operandi anyway. Here’s the deal though. I have been attending concerts since 1973. That’s 38-years for you Highland County folk. My first show was Brownsville Station, with Redbone opening. Again, for you younger kids Brownsville Station did the original, and infinitely better, version of “Smokin’ in the Boys Room,” some 15-years before Motley Crue attempted a lame cover. Redbone is best remembered as a band of American Indians, dressed in full native regalia, who sang “Come and Get Your Love.” Politically correct? Not so much. Great show though. The main point of my post is that concert etiquette has changed tremendously over the years. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a believer that almost anything goes, especially down front. But still . . . a list of my beefs:

  • People who sing the words to every single song. Hey, I enjoy a good sing-a-long as much as the next guy, but when I go see Paul McCartney I don’t want to hear some 65-year old wannabe groupie singing “Let It Be” louder than Continue reading Things I Hate at Rock Concerts

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!

Saucer Sippers; Do You Know One?

We were on a short driving trip recently and I was sipping on a travel mug of coffee I had brewed earlier in my Keurig single-cup brewing machine. I don’t know how many methods of brewing coffee I’ve bought into over the years but Keurig is my current choice. I love the quality and variety of the coffee and having to brew just one cup at a time.

When I took the last swig I remarked to my wife how I, “was going to miss that cup of coffee.” Every mug of coffee is not created equal. It may have something to do with variations in the coffee blends, stage of the tides, or phase of the moon. I suspect, though, it has more to do with the day to day status of one’s taste buds. Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t.

I don’t like coffee when if it’s too hot and usually allow it to sit several minutes before taking the first sip. Once it has cooled a few degrees Continue reading Saucer Sippers; Do You Know One?

Oktoberfest a Huge Success

Greenfield’s first Oktoberfest may have been one of the best events staged in our community’s history. Not because of crowd size, there have been bigger crowds, but if

Fully in the spirit of the day.

measured in the plain fun everyone was having, few past events could top it.

Residents of Hearth & Care and Edgewood Manor nursing homes were out in force and when the Zinzinnati Bier Band began their first set with Beer Barrel Polka, you could see from the smiles on their aged faces that this was to be a wunderbar evening.

The Greenfield Lions Club manned the food concession offering grilled mettwurst, bratwurst, and hot dogs. Optional toppings were a choice of kraut or a mix of sautĂ©ed peppers and onions. A Zinzinnati favorite, goetta, was being fried on a genuine 25″ Greenfield Product’s Big Daddy Skillet. We ordered ours extra crispy and with a little mustard it was the first goetta we’ve eaten that we thought was really exceptional. We’re pretty sure the skillet made the difference.

To fill out the menu the Lions offered two versions of Continue reading Oktoberfest a Huge Success

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