I’m still here

November 15th, 2012

I’m still here, but in another place. That is, my work place moved from Stow to Kent. Very nice facility here for the combined offices of the Kent-Ravenna Record-Courier, which moved here from Ravenna, and the Stow Weekly Division of Record Publishing Co. I am specifically attached to the Cuyahoga Falls News-Press. Moved here in August.

But what is really new exciting is my son is going to be born soon. My wife, Debbie, and I are expecting our first child, a boy, to be named Jameson David. Here are a couple ultrasound pictures below.

The first shot is from early on in the pregnancy, the second one is from later and it is in 3D. Isn’t it amazing? I can’t wait to meet my little man.

The East Side Kids of Cuyahoga Falls

July 18th, 2012

Randy Weitzel, Vernon Walker, Lew Weitzel and Joe Grenus.

Here’s a column of mine that ran in the Cuyahoga Falls News-Press:

Reflections: Friends meet for breakfast since 1983

by Steve Wiandt, Reporter

I recently had the pleasure of breaking bread with a group of guys who have been meeting for breakfast once a month for nearly 30 years. Many of them have known each other since they were kids growing up on the east side of Cuyahoga Falls.

Known as the East Side Gang, this breakfast club began meeting in 1983 at the former Country Kitchen restaurant that was on Cuyahoga Falls Avenue, said Randy Weitzel, 88, between bites of egg and toast. “We were playing golf at Baker’s Acres and someone told us Ant Fredo was in town.” Weitzel said Antujch “Ant” Fredo had moved to Florida after being raised in the Falls.

After that first get-together with Fredo, the East Side Gang decided to meet the first Wednesday of every month. In those early days, the turnout was between 36 and 40 men, Weitzel said. The location moved to Eddie’s Deli on Oakwood Drive when Country Kitchen closed. Attendance now averages around eight. Weitzel noted he has photos from those early years when the East Side Gang filled the banquet room of Country Kitchen.

“Did you have dark hair in those pictures, or was it all white?” asked Richard Skoff, a local minister who joined the group about five years ago. His question was met with laughter from everyone around the table. In addition to Weitzel and Skoff, the group that morning included Weitzel’s brother, Lew; Vernon Walker; and Joe Grenus.

Lew Weitzel, 90, was a machinist and later the chief inspector for the former Gougler Industries in Kent. Walker, also 90, is a former community development director for the city of Cuyahoga Falls and once owned a building supply company on Front Street. Grenus is a retired high school math teacher living in Barberton.

Randy Weitzel is a retired Cuyahoga Falls police officer, starting as a patrolman and ending his career as a lieutenant. The Falls had 17 or 18 bars in 1954, he noted during a breakfast conversation that seemed to change subjects with every sip of coffee. In the early days, the city was home to 27 mills, according to Skoff.

Grenus spoke about his love for fishing on Lake Hodgson in Ravenna where he can be found at least once a week.

Randy said President William McKinley used to come to High Glens Park on South Front Street. The topic can change that quickly. Thoughts are flying left and right. When the caffeine starts to kick in, sidebar conversations start up while the primary speaker is still going strong.

Next we’re hearing about the way union demonstrators were said to have shown their disapproval of the construction of State Road Shopping Center with non-union workers. “Union demonstrators rigged the dynamite to blow outward,” Randy Weitzel said. “They really didn’t want to destroy the building. They just wanted to send a message. All it did was blow the glass in the front of the building out onto State Road.”

“It shook our house on Eighth Street,” said Skoff. “My dad ran down to see what happened.”

That was in the early 1950s, when Weitzel was a Falls cop. Going back another 100 years, he recalled “the crime of the century” in Cuyahoga Falls when James Parks decapitated William Beatson in 1853. “Two guys met on a train and became friends,” Weitzel said. “One guy wanted the other guy’s money. They got off the train at Bailey Road.” Parks was convicted and executed for his crime.

Returning to the 20th century, Weitzel remembered a fire at Hudson Hardware in the late 1950s where the heat was so intense paint cans were exploding.

Favorite topics include history, childhood memories and the declining value of the dollar. One East Sider pumped gas when it was 15 cents a gallon. Another delivered the Akron Times-Press. In the winter, he’d pour the gas that was still in the long hose on the pump onto the ground and light it. Peoples Drug Store sold cigarettes two packs for a quarter, a third member offered.

Lew Weitzel said he likes to remember “the enjoyment of playing together when we were kids. We played kick the can and capture the flag.”

Brother Randy agreed. “We were close. All East Side.”

Any advice for the younger set?

“Keep active, turn off the TV and follow the Lord,” Randy said.

Email: swiandt@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-686-3915

They printed my letter and I didn’t even know it

April 4th, 2012

I recently googled my own name and discovered I had a letter to the editor printed in Comics Collector (Issue No. 6) that I didn’t remember writing, let alone seeing in print. The letter was not printed online, only mentioned in a description of the contents of the magazine. I was able buy a copy of the magazine through JC’s Comics in Cuyahoga Falls (for only $4) who ordered it online from a comicbook store in Texas. It’s funny that the headline at the top of the cover says, “Great comics you might be missing.” How about my published letter to the editor I missed!

Comics Colletor Editors Don and Maggie Thompson had devoted nearly an entire page to my letter, printing the letter itself, an informative response and two cartoon panels of “Our Boarding House.” I had purchased several previous issues of Comics Collector while I was in high school, but I missed this one. I think that’s because it came out around the time I started attending the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. I could have had a lot of fun at Eide’s (the big comicbook store in Pittsburgh) pulling this issue off of the rack and showing my new college friends the letter I wrote in a national publication.

He was a kid again

January 13th, 2012

Valerie Moirano, Community Relations Coordinator for the Cuyahoga Falls Library, sent me this little story about her dad when he was in a nursing home shortly before he passed away:

I’ve heard that people in the last stages of Alzheimer’s are pretty happy campers and they’re reliving their childhood. Did I ever tell you the great story about my dad after he had a stroke? He was at Edwin Shaw (the old one). I could tell he was worse and wondered why the staff there didn’t notice. He wanted to go for a “walk” in his wheelchair (left side paralyzed and he was a southpaw) around the floor. The last thing he said to me was “faster!” So for 45 minutes, I ran thru the halls pushing a 200 lb man in a wheelchair. He kept taking his right foot off the foot rest. I think that in his head he was a kid again and riding his scooter. Isn’t that the most wonderful “parting gift” he could give me? I bet he was wondering why some old lady was calling him Daddy!

Christmas TV, memories and Dad

January 9th, 2012

The following is a column I wrote that was published in my paper, The Cuyahoga Falls News-Press, on Christmas. The photo is a bonus that did not run in the paper. It was taken Jan. 31 of last year in Canton South. Following the column is a response I received from a reader.

Reflections: Christmas memories remain as time passes, trials come

by Steve Wiandt, Reporter

I ran across a makeshift guide of Christmas specials I made out of newsprint when I was 12. It’s an early indication of how I liked to write, and watch television. It’s also a sign that some things remain constant even as people age and undergo trials.

Measuring about 4 inches by 4 inches, the cover of the eight-page booklet reads, “This year’s book of Christmas and other specials.” A picture of Santa Claus clipped from a newspaper ad is pasted on the front. “Special” is printed in the upper right-hand corner. Below the words “Merry Christmas” is the credit, “Editor: Steven Wiandt.”

Inside is a TV schedule from 1977, probably copied out of TV Guide. The dates of broadcasts range from Nov. 27 to Dec. 16. Titles listed include “The Hobbit,” “Doonesbury,” “Mr. Magoo Christmas,” “The Honeymooners Christmas,” “The Incredible Hulk” and specials hosted by Bing Crosby, Johnny Cash and Paul Lynde.

The Bing Crosby Christmas special featured the surreal pairing of Der Bingle with David Bowie on “The Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth,” which became a hit after the video clip was played on MTV and the recording was released on vinyl, later to be a staple on radio stations at Christmas time. According to Wikipedia, the track was recorded on Sept. 11, 1977, for “Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas.” Crosby died on Oct. 14, just over a month after recording the special. The show aired on Nov. 30.

All the classics are listed in my little book as well, including those starring Rudolph, Frosty, Charlie Brown and the Grinch. “Cosmic Christmas,” “The Flintstones,” “The Nutcracker, “Christmas Donkey” and “House without a Christmas Tree” are also named.

Thinking about the old Christmas specials makes me think about my years as a kid growing up in Canton. When I watch that scene in the Charlie Brown special where he and Linus are looking for a Christmas tree, it reminds me of going to a store with my dad and the rest of our family. I remember it was a big store, maybe Giant Tiger, a popular Canton store in the 1970s. I remember walking out of the store. It was dark and quiet. Everything seemed still and isolated, like the Christmas tree lot Linus and Charlie Brown are walking through.

Then my dad realizes he left without paying for a stocking cap he had picked out for one of us kids. So he goes back inside and pays for it. I don’t know why my mind always goes back to that night. It was a simple act of forgetfulness; anyone could have done that. I’m sure my father was fine mentally then. Dad’s brain is not so good now. Dad has Alzheimer’s disease and he sometimes fails to recognize his grandchildren or remember if I’m his son or older. Keeping Dad at home got to be too much for Mom, so last week we helped him move into a nursing home.

We as a family had a difficult time leaving him there that day. My brother, my two sisters and our spouses were all there to support Mom and help Dad get settled in. When we said our goodbyes and started for the door, Dad followed us, but only as far as the front desk where he saw a friendly face and stopped to talk. He loves talking to people.

I visited Dad on Saturday around 11 a.m. He was in his room asleep in his chair in front of the television. The nurse woke him, and we talked for about an hour. Dad was reliving his days of driving a truck with his dad and brother. He seemed to think I was his older brother, John, still calling me Steve. That was OK. I played some old songs for him on my phone, and he continued to talk. He was in good spirits.

It’s going to be different this Christmas. Dad’s not home with Mom in the house in Magnolia we moved into in 1978. Somebody will have to pick him up and bring him to our gathering at my sister’s house in Canton. We won’t be at the old homestead. But our minds will travel back there, to the one in Magnolia and the one in Canton, where so many memories were made.

Under the Christmas tree. Around the dinner table. And in front of the television.

-30-

Steve,

Your article in the paper about your Dad touched me. It was really well written and even though we come from different backgrounds I can relate to it very well. Being Jewish I don’t have the same Christmas memories you have but like you I have fond memories of my Dad, and growing up with lots of family around.

My Dad passed away two years ago this past October and never a day goes by that I don’t think of him. My mother lost the love of her life, my siblings and I  lost our father and the grandkids lost Poppa to the dreaded Alzheimer’s. The day before my Dad passed away I walked into his hospital room and he looked at me, and quickly gave me a thumbs up! For that brief moment he knew exactly who I was and it was a great gift that I will always treasure.

Thanks for a great article and give your Dad a hug for me and wish him a Merry Christmas!!

Allen Mandel … Cuyahoga Falls, OH

Andy Rooney, Jack Davis and stuff

October 10th, 2011

Andy Rooney by Jack Davis

I ran across this caricature of Andy Rooney by Jack Davis while sifting through a box of stuff trying to find something (I never found). It’s ironic that this is from a column Rooney wrote on his collecting, what is now commonly called hoarding. It was reprinted in Family Circle magazine, April 19, 1983, issue. It may also Be considered ironic, or at least coincidental, that I found this piece of Andy Rooney memorabilia shortly after his last regular appearance on 60 Minutes, which was last Sunday, Oct. 2.

The column is from his book “And More by Andy Rooney” published in 1982, accoding to the fine print near the bottom of the page.

“Today is a turning point in my life,” Rooney begins.

“From this day forward, I am not adding one single thing to my collection of possessions. If I bring something new in the front door, I’m going to throw something out the back door.” Whenever I am considering a purchase, my wife asks, “What are you going to get rid of to make room for it.”

“The simple fact of the matter is that everything’s full,” Rooney says. “My desk drawers are full, and the top of my desk is heaped high with papers.

“My two-car garage long ago passed the point where I could get one car, let along two, into it. Now I can’t even open the garage door from the driveway side and walk through it to the door leading to the kitchen. I have to go around.” Debbie wouldn’t let things go that far. Maybe one car would get crowded out, and mine would have to left outside at all times, but never two. As it stands now, and will remain, I believe, we have plenty of room in our garage for both cars.

“When the oil-burner man came to give the furnace its annual physical, he said I couldn’t have all that stuff piled so close to it. That’s easy for an oil-burner man to say, but where would he put it? Where would he put the outdoor chair with the broken leg that’s too good to throw away and which I’ll probably fix someday? There’s no space left anywhere in the cellar except too close to the furnace.” That’s not good. I wouldn’t do that, pile stuff by the furnace. I’ve seen “Hoarders” on television a couple of times. I never could get through an entire episode. In one, the man had a large collection of books and comicbooks. I thought, “Cool! I want to see what he has!” This guy had books and papers piled against the stove and on it, too, and he was turning it on for heat. Crazy! I had to turn it off when they showed his family crying and saying they had moved out out because their husband/father was so far gone.

“The attic isnt any better,” Rooney continues. ” The attic is high enough only in the middle, under the peak of the roof, for me to stand up straight [see illustration], but I’ve hoisted boxes of old letters, books and suitcases filled with papers into it and shoved them over to the side where I have to get down on my hands and knewws to shove them under the eaves.

“The four kids have all left home, but they didn’t leave home with much of their stuff. In closets everywhere there is evidence of the 18 or 20 years they spent in the house. Parents entertain some foolish notion that they’re loved and wanted just because children leave their clothes behind when they strike out on their own. The kids, for their part, are about as sentimental about their closet at home as they’d be about a locker in a bus station. I love them, but when they come home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, I’m going to sneak out to their cars at night while they’re sleeping and fill the trunks with old sneaks, small clothes and school papers of theirs that they’ve been storing at home. I’m going to stuff the cute, misshapen clay ashtrays they made in Miss Evans’s pottery class into the crevices beneath the front seats of their cars. I’m going to make Ellen take those 37 books in Russian she brought home from college.” This is funny. My three siblings and I left a lot of stuff behind when we moved out. My mom and dad brought boxes of my junk to my house about 20 years after I moved out the first time. She didn’t trust me to come back and get it!

“In the kitchen, the drawers are piled so high with knives, forks and kitchen gadgets for cutting carrots into interesting shapes that something often sticks up too high and prevents a drawer from opening.

“My life runneth over and I’m going to do something about it. Beginning today, I solemnly swear on a stack of old Garry Moore scripts that I will not bring one single item into the house or office without casting out some equivalent spacetaker. If I buy a new tool, I’m going to throw out an old one. If I buy a new shirt, I’m going to throw out an old shirt.” I didn’t know he wrote for Garry Moore. Those scripts might be worth some money today.

“I am no longer going to save the brown bags the groceries come in. I have a lifetime supply of old brown bags. I am going to cast out coffee cans, rubber bands, matchbooks, broken toasters, old snow tires and perhaps, my stack of old Life magazines.

“I’m cleaning out my life, beginning today … tomorrow the very latest.”

That’s the entire column. Pretty good. I think most of us can identify with at least some of what Rooney said. It’s hard to throw things out, especially when when we think there might be some usefulness still left in it, or a new use for it down the road.

Simpler times

August 5th, 2011

My parents during simpler times. Dec. 26, 1964. “For richer and for poorer. In sickness and in health.” Alzheimer’s wasn’t around then, and “getting senile” was far from their minds as Dave and Rita prepared to spend the rest of their lives together. Mom had no idea what she would face 45 years. She’s doing the best she can, but times aren’t so simple anymore. Dad has trouble remembering he’s retired and doesn’t have to go to work. The kids are grown up and moved away. HIs parents have passed away, as have many other relatives, friends and movie stars like John Wayne.

Dad’s still in good spirits most of the time. He smiles and greets everyone he meets. People he’s known for years are new friends now. He waves to all he sees from the passenger seat. He’s not driving anymore. Thinking has become hard work. Dad sleeps a lot — during the day. He gets up a lot at night — thinks he has to be somewhere. Work. The doctor’s.

“I’m supposed to be in Canton,” he tells my mom. “I’m going to a car show. You don’t want to come, do you?”

“Go to sleep, honey. It’s late. It’s dark outside. You’re supposed to be in bed.”

“I know, but I’m supposed to go to that car show with Steve. Why isn’t he here? Where is he?”

Pros AND Conn’s of potato chips

July 14th, 2011

Conn’s are the pros of potato chips. After doing a little research (very little– I read the back of this bag of chips my wife, Debbie, bought me at the Cambridge, OH, Sheetz), I found three addresses for the Conn’s Potato Chip Company: 180 5 Kemper Court, Zanesville, OH; 410 So. Mt. Pleasant, Lancaster, OH; and 1271 Alum Creek Dr., Columbus, OH. The company’s website is www.connschips.com

Conn’s are good chips

July 13th, 2011

If you are a lover of good, locally made potato chips, try some Conn’s Potato Chips the next time you’re in southern Ohio. They are made in Zanesville. This is not an ad. Just my opinion. As always, please snack responsibly!

Buffalo Bill by Jack Davis

January 17th, 2011

Found this online. It’s cool, isn’t it? Very detailed. It’s a T-shirt concept.