Monk said, “He fought like a young bear!”

People in large urban areas probably go to the zoo or fly pigeons from their tenement roof tops to have a natural experience. In small town and rural America the experience is much closer and more personal. We live with wild life and have centuries old traditions about hunting, trapping, angling, and observing the creatures we live near.

Each year during deer season the competition is on to see who comes away with the biggest white tail buck deer and all the bragging rights that accompany its prize set of antlers. It’s big business and even the counties of Ohio have a vested interested in where the trophy deer was harvested. A couple of years ago Highland County produced a major buck and local restaurants, motels, and restaurants benefited from the Continue reading Monk said, “He fought like a young bear!”

The Killing of Durward “Bud” Perry

Click photo to enlarge.

The violent death of anyone has inherent interest but the telling of the story should have a greater purpose. The robbery and murder of a Greenfield, Ohio cab driver in 1956 is a captivating story. It is also an example of how inaccurately we think about our past. We cling to the idea that somehow our past was a better time. A time when the streets of our villages and cities were both cleaner and safer. When people were more honest and reliable. Where doors could be left unlocked, windows left open, and children could roam their neighborhoods under the watchful eye of the “village.”

In researching the story of Durward “Bud” Perry’s murder I thumbed through a decade’s worth of archival newspapers. From the late 1940s to the late 1950s the lessons were clear, the good old days weren’t all that good. The headlines of the era were filled with much the same kinds of stories appearing in today’s newspapers, petty crime, vandalism, robbery, burglary of homes and businesses, arson, assault, and homicide.

Certainly there are differences, society today is far less Continue reading The Killing of Durward “Bud” Perry

Greenfield Y-Gradale Selling Woven Coverlets

The Greenfield Y-Gradale is selling woven coverlets featuring famous Greenfield landmarks as a money making project. Here are the details.

Tapestry Throw: $45
Tapestry Tote Bag $25
Tapestry Throw Pillow $25
Order any 2 items – save $5
Order any 3 items – save $10

If orders are placed before Oct. 21, items will be available for Christmas gift-giving. Payment must be made at time of ordering.

Contact Jayne Honnold: 981-2095 or 740-703-2095 Or any Y-Gradale member.

Off-white background with 4-color buildings. Red, blue, green, yellow along with some black, so it will look good with any decor. All of our profits are recycled back into local charitable causes.

Local landmarks featured on the throw: City Building is centered, and circled by McClain HS, Travelers Rest, Greenfield Library, Phillips Recreation Center, GAMC, Konneker Education Museum, DT&I Depot, Cemetery Chapel, B&O Depot, Grain & Hay, and Smith Tannery.

Mr. Wert Ash’s Legacy, Let’s Make it Right!

Mr. Wert Ash, June, 1960

If you live in a city of 18 million souls the legacy you’re remembered by may not count as heavily as it would in a small town of less than 5000. Mr. Wert Ash lived and died in a small town and for decades his legacy has been stained by what small town’s are good at; accepting rumor and half-truths as fact.

During much of his life, this descendant of a grandfather who had experienced slavery first hand, was known as “Hammerhead” or “Hammer.” Few knew his real name but most in town knew him by those nicknames, didn’t know why he was called them, but knew that shouting those words at Mr. Wert Ash would drive him to a fit of anger, evoking oaths, threats, and at times hot pursuit.

I’ve recently been privy to a discussion about Mr. Wert Ash and no one present knew what his real name was but most knew who he was and what his nicknames were. Just as they didn’t know his real name, they didn’t know how he Continue reading Mr. Wert Ash’s Legacy, Let’s Make it Right!

Gossett’s, The BOO(k) Store of My Youth

L-R: Thad Gossett, Wilma Gossett Everhart, & Cheryl Stuckey. Click photo to enlarge.

Recently I wrote a piece about the demise of the old-fashioned hardware store. Well, another retail business genre that’s dipping below the horizon is the local book and office supply store. Shot from the saddle by the young bloods in town, Staples and Office Max.

In my hometown, Greenfield, OH, we had Gossett’s Bookstore. Gossett’s began selling paper, pins, thumb tacks, gifts, books, accounting supplies, typewriters, adding machines, ditto machines, postage scales, staples, paperclips, pencils, pens, crayons, tempera paint and artist supplies, all-occasion cards, Sunday School supplies, school supplies and workbooks, and much more since before Saint Peter strolled in one day and ordered some very large blank journals.

Seriously, every person who ever walked the streets of Greenfield, beginning in 1841, could relate some pleasant memory of doing business at Gossett’s. If a chemist were to enter his lab and synthesize the aromas of all the items I’ve listed above and then Continue reading Gossett’s, The BOO(k) Store of My Youth

Like a Puff of Smoke

A friend of mine recently returned from a trip to Buffalo, NY. He was commenting on the paying $150 for a scalped “cheap seat” ticket to a Buffalo Bills game and what he had to shell out for a small bottle of liquor, $40. The stunner was the statement that a carton of cigarettes, with state, local and federal taxes, was $207.06.

If you travel you may have known for years that vice is not cheap in New York state and even more expensive in New York City. In the early 80s, when I still smoked, a pack of cigarettes in a NY machine was $2. Well above what the same would run in most other states.

When I began smoking in the 50s I can remember buying cigarettes from machines for Continue reading Like a Puff of Smoke

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.


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

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!

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 sautéed 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

Washington Court House Inchworm

One of several large outdoor murals painted by Harry Ahysen around Fayette County, OH.

Two and two are four. Art is around us, but it is something that you have to open your eyes to see. Fairly often we find ourselves focused on a task too hard to take a look at our surroundings. We need to learn to take time to glimpse at the world around us. The towns and cities we live in may not have the Louvre or the Met; they may not have a thriving theatre or a concert hall, but there is art everywhere. I am glad to have grown up in Washington Court House because I have had the opportunity to grow up with art. Some of it is hidden in the confines of old buildings; some however, is in plain sight. It blends into the town’s culture and heritage and eventually is forgotten, because we forget to open our eyes to it. We forget the brushstrokes and sweat it takes to make our masterpieces blend in with the community. We forget how boring the blank canvas was before those brushstrokes took effect.

Four and Four are eight. I had the opportunity to take a walk on a sunny Continue reading Washington Court House Inchworm

The Pelicans of Lake Erie. Lake Erie?

In the past sixty-years many things have changed about Ohio’s wildlife scene. Growing up in the 40s and 50s I have no memory of ever seeing a local deer, wild turkey, black bear, osprey, bald eagle, or sea-gull. Today, to a degree, these things are fairly common in our state.

The first Ohio deer I saw was in the fall of 1970 driving along Lower-Twin Rd running my morning school bus route. As I came around a curve there was a huge buck standing in the road and as soon as it saw the bus it bounded over a wire fence and headed for the nearest woods. I stopped the bus and sat there in awe.

Today we have deer grazing in the clearing in front Continue reading The Pelicans of Lake Erie. Lake Erie?

You Can All Go Fly a Kite!

I’m sitting on a deck at Holden Beach, NC watching my grandson fly a kite held aloft by a constant breeze rolling in from the Atlantic. As kids, every spring we’d take a few nickels to the Famous 5&10 store and buy a kite kit. The picture on the wrapping always displayed children having huge fun watching their assembled kites soar into the stratosphere.

That may have been my introduction to the world of false advertising. The directions didn’t seem that difficult and my completed kite always looked like the one in the directions but, it never flew very high and refused to stay airborne. Given what we know today about things made in China containing excessive lead, I’m pretty sure China is where my kite kits came from.  Continue reading You Can All Go Fly a Kite!

Mary Morter, South Salem’s Claim to the Throne

I began my teaching career in Ohio at Buckskin Elementary and Junior High School in South Salem. I spent five years teaching Special Education and in the process learned a lot about teaching and met some wonderful people, many who became life-long friends.

Recently a bunch of former “Skinners” got to swapping growing up in South Salem stories on Facebook. They talked about what some did behind the stone building during recess, playing dodge ball in the school gym and the welts they endured as a result, summers wading in Buckskin Creek, and a few things they may regret revealing. To me it sounded exactly like what life is growing up in a rural area and Continue reading Mary Morter, South Salem’s Claim to the Throne