Highland’s Bicentennial

The village of Highland will be marking its bicentennial in September of this year. Since many of us have connections to there it’s important that we share with them in their celebration. Here’s a flyer with all the details. I’m sure more will be made known as the date nears.

highland celebration poster

Saving the Tumblebug!

Somebody on Facebook posted a photo of a dung beetle rolling a ball of manure. It reminded me of something that we did back in the 1970s at Yankee Peddler Bicycles. Here’s the picture…

dung beetle b

I responded with the following…

“Back in the Yankee Peddler days I read an article about the dung beetle being threatened in the Eastern US because of the dwindling supply of horse manure, it’s shit of choice. Norman Gingerich decided something should be done to save the beetle so he founded a movement to raise monies to buy Western horse turds and ship them east. Our trademark was a hand drawn image based on this photo. One change was the ball had the continents drawn on it so the ball of poop was the earth. We had a board of directors that included myself, Dave Allen and Bill Ingle of Ingle’s Greenhouse in Bainbridge. We also had brochures, flyers, and possibly t-shirts. Obviously it was a farce but Norman loved to have fun with things like this.”

Today Bobby Everhart emailed me a photo he took of the button we had made to promote the effort. Bob knows what is important in life and doesn’t throw it away. I thank him for that. Here’s the button…

dung beetle

Thoughts on Racism

A friend posted a link to a blog about identifying racism. After reading it I have a few comments to share from my personal racismexperiences. First of all I am human therefore I have biases. Sometimes I let the cover define the book, therefore I can be prejudicial. Today I walked into the local Walmart store and my inner voice said, “Damn these people are ugly,” forgetting what I look like in a mirror. Therefore I can be bigoted. All of these are human characteristics and I’m pretty sure we all have them to a greater or lesser degree. I don’t know how we acquire them, just that we have them.

The blog’s author says that claiming to have best friends who are black is a potential sign of being racist. I’ve never made that claim but I do know of examples where such is true. Best I can say is that some of my favorite people are black but I can’t honestly say we are “best” friends. We just seem to like and enjoy each other when our paths cross.

Another thing the blog says is racist is claiming to be color blind. That beneath the skin we are all the same. Well, I don’t know if it’s racist or not but I don’t feel that way. I know enough about people to recognize that we are different. Black people have had a collectively different life experience than what I’ve had. There is such a thing as black culture and some times I don’t understand it nor feel totally comfortable in its presence. But the older I get the more I do understand and the more joy I receive from it. You can’t seek out great barbecue or delve into the history of blues music without coming nose to nose with cultural history that differs from your own. The key is to recognize it as being different, important, and not inferior.

You hear lots of people claim that we begin our lives on a level playing field and if we work hard enough we can overcome and be successful. That simply is not true for blacks or whites. The playing field in America has never been level and still isn’t. The reality is that our chances of success are directly reliant on chance, luck of the draw. The odds for or against our personal futures are directly connected to what family you were born into. If your parents were solidly middle-class or higher, you’ve got a much better chance of being successful than those who are born poor. Whites have a better change than blacks.

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard whites defend themselves against being racist with arguments such as, “Don’t blame me, I never owned slaves.” That may be the case but it doesn’t protect one from being racist. In my case my great, great, great-grandfather did own slaves and it took a civil war to remove slave ownership from my family. While being the descendant of slave owners doesn’t cast guilt on me I am accountable to seeing it never happens again. Black culture and attitudes are in great part a consequence of over four hundred years of oppression. I can’t reverse that history but I can work to understand it and better our collective futures.

I’ll finish up with one I heard just this morning, one the blog calls “exhaustion and despair.” “I’m so tired of this and I’m just going to turn my TV off.” I don’t know if this is racist or not but it certainly isn’t contributing to any solution. We as a nation absolutely have to talk about the issues that divide and threaten us. Problems almost never solve themselves. The dialogue has to be both internal and external. We must sit down and have an honest and quiet conversation with our inner being just as we must have honest and open public conversations.

There are no innocents, black or white, because we are all human and display human traits. Our issues are the consequences of history that we didn’t make but have to live with. It is absolutely imperative for us all to understand that history and collectively try to reconcile it in such ways that allow us to be different, to have our differences recognized as being of value, while developing a sense that the doors of opportunity are truly open for all that wish to walk through.

Update – Mr. Wert Ash

Several months ago a number of area residents chipped in to help purchase a grave marker to honor the life of Mr. Wert Ash. I received word from Jay Hardy of Hardy Memorials in Greenfield, OH that the marker was installed on Wednesday, November 11, 2015. There has been speculation that possibly Mr. Ash was a veteran of the Spanish-American War. If so this was a great date to honor both his life and his service to America.

Thought is being given to hold a small memorial service in the spring of next year.

NOTE: Some time ago I wrote a story about Mr. Wert Ash. Click HERE to read and obtain some background.

wert ash marker
Mr. Ash’s marker is located in the SW corner of the cemetery near the Hardy Memorial building.


On June 8, 2004 a group of five Greenfield veterans of World War II met at the Greenfield Library to mark and tell of their experiences during the war. Most, if not all, have passed on but on this Veteran’s Day I’d like to reprise a story told by one, James Mossbarger.

“As part of the 60th anniversary of D-Day, Jim Mossbarger spoke to an assembled group of interested people at the Greenfield Library. Here’s a little of what he had to say.

Following graduation from McClain High School, Jim Mossbarger entered the Army Air Corp and was trained as a waist gunner on a B-24 bomber. He left the US, headed for England, in early 1944, prior to D-Day.

wwii vets
L-R: Paul Howland, Hayward Riley, James Mossbarger, Floyd Shockey, Bill Collins

For reasons he didn’t divulge, the trip took almost 2 weeks and took his group into the Caribbean, Brazil, the Azores Islands, the Western Sahara desert of North Africa and finally to England; very much the long way around.

As a member of the 8th Air Force, Jim, and his crewmates, flew 35 missions into occupied Europe. Most missions were against targets in Germany and France with side trips into Belgium, Holland, Norway and Denmark.

By the time his unit arrived in the European Theatre, American bombers were receiving long-range fighter support from planes such as the P-38 and the P-51. This meant he and his buddies rarely had to face the threat of German fighters but did have to contend with enemy anti-aircraft flak wherever they flew. Jim offered that except for testing his guns, he never had occasion to fire his waist gun in combat.

He also mentioned that Bill Collins, another of Greenfield’s WWII veterans, was serving with a fighter group in England that was involved in flying cover for the 8th Air Force. After D-Day, Collins’ group was detailed to providing air support for American ground forces trying to establish a foothold in France.

Jim and Bill had an occasion before D-Day to meet in London and spend an evening in an English dance hall. They inferred that the ladies were friendly and all had a good time. Also, as they wiled away the evening and without their knowledge, the city was under a major bombing from the Nazi’s.

Mossbarger related a story in which his B-24 was part of a much larger force flying a mission to Munich, Germany. The tail gunner of his plane, observing bombs falling out of their bomb bay doors, announced over the radio, “bombs away.” This was the signal for the other planes in the group to begin dropping their payloads. Turned out they had released their bombs 12 miles short of the intended target. An electrical malfunction had caused the initial bombs to be dropped prematurely.

Another episode “Mossy” told about was an experience where his plane had taken off from a small English airfield headed for a mission in France. At 11,000 feet and still over English soil, the tail gunner reported that he was witnessing hot metal flying past his gun position. The pilot immediately reported that one of the left engines was on fire and someone, probably the co-pilot, prematurely sounded the abandon plane alarm. Jim and the other waist gunner hiked up their courage and exited the plane via the escape hatch.

Meanwhile, the pilot, maintaining his cool, sent the turret gunner to shut off the fuel to the burning engine, thus extinguishing the blaze. So, as the B-24 shakily turned about and returned to base, Mossy and his crewmate found themselves quietly floating downwards into a small English community named Florida.

The town’s folks took them in and tended to their needs while they waited for the Air Corp to pick them up. Jim said that one of the ladies asked him if he needed something to settle his nerves. He replied that he was okay but could stand a cup of coffee. Not having coffee, the lady offered him a cup of hot tea served on a saucer. When he reached for the saucer the cup went flying in to the air spilling its contents. It was then that he realized just how, “shook up,” he was.

He offered an accounting of the losses his group experienced and, though they were bad, they were not near as bad as those suffered by earlier fliers who ventured into Nazi held Europe before the advent of fighter support and a weakened German air force.”

As told by James Mossbarger, 6/8/04

Highland County’s Gist Settlement

I’m probably like many of you, lived most of my life in Highland County, Ohio and never heard of this thing called the Gist Settlement. It wasn’t until moving back to Greenfield in the early 1970s and starting to read some local history that I first became aware of it.

paul turner aThe settlement, which resulted from a wealthy absentee Virginia slaveholder wanting to settle his conscience as he neared death, is located about half way between Careytown and New Vienna on Gist Settlement Road ( Click HERE for a Google Map of the area). I’ve driven by several times and besides a couple of homes, a church, and an old cemetery, there isn’t much to see these days.

Continue reading Highland County’s Gist Settlement

Remember When?

Remember when being a serious candidate for a serious political position such as governor or president often involved stories of great deeds, sacrifice, gallantry and honesty?

george washingtonI grew up hearing stories about George Washington’s truthfulness, his daring, his bravery and leadership qualities. About Abraham Lincoln’s honesty and humble beginnings and Teddy Roosevelt wanting a fairer deal for all Americans. Stories about the first President Bush being a combat pilot in WWII and John Kennedy saving lives when his PT boat was destroyed during WWII.

When you mature you come to know that these people were never perfect but they never found it necessary to tout their mistakes as a means of gaining political position.

Continue reading Remember When?

Do you blame Dubyah?

jeb bushIn a recent TV interview Jeb Bush asked the question, “Does anybody actually blame my brother for 9/11?” Well the answer is, yes, there are many who do and apparently it includes Donald Trump. Trump spent last week laying responsibility for 9/11 on Jeb’s big brother, if for no other reason, he was living in the White House on that day.

Jeb continued to defend his bro by saying it wasn’t what happened on 9/11 that Dubyah should be graded on but what he did afterwards,  “It’s what he did afterwards that matters. And I’m proud of him and so are a bunch of other people. You don’t have to have your last name be Bush to understand that.”

Continue reading Do you blame Dubyah?

Just sayin’; What’s with this Benghazi obsession?

George W. Bush sent America’s youth and treasure into the sovereign nation of Iraq without reason or direct provocation. His reasons were all proven to be unfounded and in doing so he:

  • Wasted over 4,000 American lives.
  • Created tens of thousands of American casualties.
  • Killed well over a 100,000 civilian Iraqis.
  • Destroyed a nation’s infrastructure.
  • Borrowed enormous amounts of money to pay for a senseless war.
  • Indebted Americans for decades to come.
  • Created a political vacuüm that is laying waste to an entire world region.
  • And instituted a foreign policy that has further tarnished America’s image in the world. We’re even more the big bully on the block.

GW’s actions are also the root of what happened in Libya and led up to the death of those four Americans in Benghazi.

Continue reading Just sayin’; What’s with this Benghazi obsession?

My First Date

I saw an online meme today that evoked the memory of my first real date. It was with a girl named Ada and involved me asking her to share a glass of Coke-Cola with me at a soda shop. I was in first grade and Ada second. The nickel for the soft drink came from cashing in a quart milk jug at Jamra’s grocery. Like lots of kids of my era the bottle came from a neighbor’s front porch. The two of us sat in a booth and enjoyed one Coke with two straws. Kind of a Lady and the Tramp moment.


My visit to MHS today

During the recent Centennial Re-dedication of McClain High School I ordered and paid for a t-shirt being sold by a student organization. I’d forgotten and yesterday received a phone call notifying me the shirt was ready to be picked up.

students notebooksSo, early this afternoon I visited the school and to my pleasure was immediately and politely question by a teacher about my presence. When I said I was headed for the office the teacher helpfully asked if I knew where it was. After spending most of my life in that building I got a little smile out of that.

Anyway, I got to the office, retrieved my shirt, and proceeded to the exist at the far end of the first floor hallway. In passing several classrooms I was impressed by a couple of things. First was how intently involved the students were and second, almost everyone had a laptop computer on their desk.

Continue reading My visit to MHS today

How is this in my best interest?

Here’s a few things I’ve noticed over the decades. When the cotton mills still existed in the American South there was a very strong anti-union sentiment. Many of the poorest and most backward states are also among the most conservative states. Highland County, Ohio suffered some of the lowest unemployment figures during the recent recession yet it almost always votes Republican.

The Republican Party prides itself for its conservative stance on major economic issues. In today’s race for the White House their candidates go to extremes to show that their conservatism is the more extreme of everyone else’s conservatism. Of the sixteen GOP candidates still in the race not a one has a platform plank that places worker’s rights ahead corporate rights. Not a one favors equal pay for women, paid sick leave, worker’s right to organize, the right to collective bargaining, paid company health insurance, or wages that are above the poverty level. Such is the nature of conservative policy yet so many working-class Americans see their best interest being served by this.

Continue reading How is this in my best interest?

McClain High School Celebrates 100 Years over Labor Day

Labor Day Weekend in Greenfield will be extra special in 2015 as the crown jewel of the Highland County community — Edward Lee McClain High School — observes its centennial. McClain High School is an impressive brick edifice on a campus that resembles a small college. Inside this unique public school, visitors marvel at the paintings, sculptures, friezes, ornate tile and other works of art that have inspired generations of students and established the McClain family’s legacy of paying forward.

minervaMcClain High School was a gift to the community, designed to do “the most good for the greatest number for the longest time” in the words of Edward Lee McClain, an industrialist who made a fortune in the late 19th and early 20th centuries manufacturing horse collar pads and building an impressive business empire.

McClain added to his success by purchasing other companies and demonstrating a real talent for bringing products to market that were needed by a growing nation. McClain and his wife Lulu decided to give Greenfield the beautiful art-filled high school that continues to inspire students, faculty and visitors alike. The new school was dedicated during Labor Day Weekend of 1915 with many dignitaries present for the ceremony.

For more than a year, a committee of school officials and many community members has been planning the centennial celebration that will take place Friday through Sunday, September 4-6. “The result should be an enjoyable and meaningful weekend as local graduates and visitors reflect on the generosity of the McClain family while considering how each of us might be able to ‘pay forward’ for the enrichment of future generations,” said Greenfield City Manager Ron Coffey, a proud McClain alumnus.

Time capsule!
An added bonus to the festivities is the belief that the cornerstone of McClain High School contains a time capsule. Superintendent of Schools Joe Wills announced Monday that plans are in motion to remove the 1914 cornerstone of McClain High School and extract the time capsule that was placed there 101 years ago. Plans are to open the capsule prior to Saturday’s Centennial Dinner (scheduled at 5 p.m.) and examine the contents. A new time capsule will be placed in the cornerstone, to be opened in the year 2115.

Complete details along with a schedule of events is available at www.mcclain100.org.