Back when our laptops were made by Royal and Smith-Corona

For the benefit of those who don’t have access to the Ashland Times-Gazette

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My old column header — Negative framed in Rubylith. Ancient technology, like typewriters and fax machines. (Original photo by Kittie Palm-Houser)

We didn’t have smartphones when I took my first canoe trip to Marietta via the Mohican, Walhonding and Muskingum rivers. We didn’t even have dumb phones.

It was the early ’90s and I was writing columns for a weekly paper in Columbus. I made arrangements with the publisher to transmit columns from the river during my two-week trip. In those days, the only technology available was fax. For you younger readers, that was a primitive method for transmitting documents over telephone lines.

I made a portable office for the trip, using a Rubbermaid Action Packer. The lid doubled as a desk, for which I had rigged legs out of PVC pipe. Inside the tote, I packed a 1950s model Royal portable typewriter, typing paper, a paperback dictionary and correction fluid. (I’m a terrible typist.)

I lugged this thing on numerous portages — including Mohawk Dam, which is about four stories tall.

I calculated where I would be when my columns were due and arranged to fax them from the towns of Dresden and Beverly.

That proved to be an adventure in itself. I had to locate businesses in both towns where the managers would be willing to let me use their fax machines. Imagine explaining that over the phone to a total stranger:

“You want to do what?”

“You’re canoeing from where to where?”

“When will you be here?”

“Will you have mud on your feet?”

In Dresden, I faxed my column from a small grocery store. When I first contacted the manager, he was intrigued. He tried to be helpful, telling me I could practically paddle right up to the store. I think he was talking about paddling up Wakatomika Creek, which flows north of town. Very much north of town.

There might be places where Wakatomika Creek meanders and actually brings you closer to the grocery store than the Muskingum River. But that would have involved using a GPS, technology that wasn’t commonly available back then. It also would have required some serious bushwhacking and a hike across private property. I didn’t relish the thought of explaining to a shotgun-toting farmer that I was en route to fax a newspaper column to Columbus.

I probably would have spared us both the bother and told him to just shoot me.

I hiked to the grocery store from my campsite on the Muskingum River and faxed my column. The manager had no idea what to charge me. I offered him what it would cost for a long-distance call to Columbus and a couple of bucks for his trouble. He was happy with that.

Beverly was a different story. I faxed my column from a golf course on the edge of town.

Like the grocery store manager in Dresden, the folks at the golf course were intrigued and eager to hear about my adventures. However, I had to walk them through the process of sending a fax. Up to that point, they had used their fax machine for incoming faxes only — from golfers reserving tee times.

The columns were published, along with a third one I wrote after returning to Columbus. The manuscripts survived the river trip, but not the test of time. Frankly, I don’t remember what I wrote. I was probably too buzzed on fumes from the correction fluid.

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You can take the boy out of the West Side, but you can’t take the West Side out of the boy

There are reunions and there are reunions

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West Side Market – my old stomping grounds.

Returned to Cleveland yesterday for a reunion with friends, which included a quick visit to the West Side Market.

For me, it was kind of like coming full circle. When I met these folks 36 years ago, I was an under-educated working class kid. I was driving trucks for a living, with little hope or regard for the future. Such was the fate for most the people I grew up with on the West Side. You graduated from high school, got a job and slogged through life, resigned to living and dying in that world.

When I met them, all that changed. (I was backing a truck up to a dock in Lorain, Ohio, when I first met two members of the group. They later introduced me to their circle of friends, who were connected by virtue of living in Shaker Heights, an East Side suburb.) Though much younger than I, they were well-educated and worldly. The things they talked about and their passion for living inspired me to go to college.

Eventually — very eventually — I was able to parlay raw writing talent, temper it with education and discipline and write for a living. Meager as it was.

I confess that the discipline was a battle. I pissed away years, way too many years, drinking, partying and generally fucking off. But eventually it happened.

The evolution came full circle during the 17 years I spent writing for the Ashland Times-Gazette, a small-town daily in North Central Ohio. There I learned that the world didn’t revolve around me. I learned that my job as a journalist wasn’t about Irv Oslin, it was about honestly and fairly chronicling the lives of the people of Ashland County — regardless of how I felt about their politics or way of life.

I came to know them and appreciate them for who they were.

That brought me around to Buddhist philosophy — losing the self. It brought me back, really, because I’ve always had a strong undercurrent of compassion, a desire to do for others.

I was reminded of this when I drove to the West Side Market yesterday to be reunited with the people who, so long ago, took the boy out of the West Side

I saw a middle-aged black woman getting into a car parked on Lorain Avenue and pulled up behind, waiting for her to vacate the spot. She got out, rooted around in the trunk, then closed it and walked around the car and opened the rear passenger-side door. It occurred to me that, had I been impatient and self-centered, I would have been annoyed at the delay.

The woman retrieved an umbrella from the back seat. It was sprinkling and chilly, so I figured she wanted to have it handy for when she reached her destination. Not so. She walked up to an old white man in wheel chair. He was waiting for a bus. She gave him the umbrella, got back into her car and drove off.

 

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Reunited – Later in the day at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Can’t thank these people enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering Iwo Jima

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Cledith Skeen reflected in the glass of a commemorative montage of Marine memorabila

One of my editors asked if I wanted to interview a couple of guys in town who fought on Iwo Jima. Talk about a rhetorical question.

On Nov. 29, I had the privilege of talking with two Marines who fought in the Battle of Iwo Jima — two guys who ended up living less than a mile from each other in a small town in north central Ohio.

The story ran on Pearl Harbor Day in the Ashland Times-Gazette. Here it is.

ASHLAND — Cledith Skeen sat in a plush recliner in his Belmont Towers apartment. In a chair to his left sat Tom Winemiller, clutching a wooden cane tipped with a shiny brass knob.

 “Until I met this fella, in 72 years I had met only two other Marines who served in Iwo Jima,” Skeen said, gesturing toward Winemiller. “I don’t know if there’s many of us left.”

 “I’ll bet you’re correct,” Winemiller agreed. “There can’t be very many. I hate to say this, but we left a lot of them on that island.”

 “That’s the sad part,” Skeen said. “I don’t want credit. Any honor, any credit, goes to those guys who laid it down, almost 7,000 of them didn’t walk away.”

Skeen, 90, and Winemiller, 91, met for a brief interview last week. They had visited each other twice before after discovering a few months ago that they live less than a mile apart. Skeen, formerly of Canton, moved to Ashland a year ago with his wife, Margaret. She passed away in April. Winemiller and his wife Jeanne are longtime Ashland residents. They live just outside the city on Township Road 853.

Skeen described how they met. His daughter, Nancy White of Ashland, had taken him to a dental appointment. A receptionist at the dentist’s office took notice of his Marine Corps cap and asked where he had served. When she learned Skeen had fought in Iwo Jima, she mentioned that she knew another local man who had served there. A meeting was arranged.

“It was just a blessing for me to meet him,” Skeen said.

“And being so close,” Winemiller added. “Only about a half-mile away, as the crow flies.”

During the interview, they didn’t reminisce very much. No crowing about the good old days. No war stories — at least none glorifying their experiences on the eight-square-mile hell that was Iwo Jima. In the 36-day battle, nearly 7,000 U.S. Marines were killed — along with more than 20,000 Japanese soldiers. More than 19,000 Americans were wounded. For the Japanese, that wasn’t an option. For them, it was a suicide mission from the start. Only 216 were taken prisoner.

Skeen grew up in Hopedale, a little town in eastern Ohio between Cadiz and Steubenville. His father was a coal miner. Skeen had no desire to go into the mines. After the war, he went to work at the Timken Company steel mill in Canton. He worked there for more than 36 years. Skeen lived in Canton most of his life, where he and his wife raised three daughters. He has six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren — going on eight.

He enlisted in the Marines in January 1944. He was 17 when he signed up and 18 when he went in.

“I was a young kid and a spirit of patriotism prevailed in our nation at that time,” Skeen said. “As a young kid, I wanted to serve my country and a saw a picture of these young Marines in their dress blues and heard the Marine Corps Hymn and it got me all excited. Needless to say, I never had a pair of dress blues and I didn’t hear the Hymn very much.”

There was no time for spit and polish then. Skeen, who served in the 5th Marine Division, took basic training in California. On D-Day — Feb. 19, 1945 — he found himself aboard a landing craft poised to hit the beach at Iwo Jima.

Winemiller served in the 3rd Marine Division. His was a reserve division. There were more than 2,400 U.S. casualties on the first day of the invasion, so he was sent ashore a few days after it started.

Like Skeen, he went through basic training in California and quickly found himself headed for Iwo Jima. The movie “Guadalcanal Diary” inspired him to join the Marines. He enlisted in December 1943.

“It (the movie) was quite a stimulation at the time,” Winemiller said. “You were going to be in some sort of service if you were 17 years old in 1943. I knew I didn’t want to be a sailor. I was always kind of uneasy about the fact that you’re on a ship you’re a target every minute of the day and night.”

Winemiller grew up in Sydney in western Ohio. He lived in town, but developed a keen interest in poultry farming. After military service, he earned a degree in poultry science at Ohio State University. That led to a career in agricultural advertising. He moved to Ashland in the early 1950s after landing a job at Hess & Clark, a livestock supply manufacturer. He retired from there in 1980, but continued to work in advertising part-time before retiring for good about 15 years ago.

He and Skeen talked about arriving at Iwo Jima — part of an armada of 880 ships. The U.S. had been bombarding the island for a couple of months. All that pounding did virtually nothing to reduce the enemy’s numbers. They were waiting in ambush, hunkered down in hundreds of caves and pillboxes — some of them interconnected by 16 miles of tunnels.

“What they didn’t know was how much underground stuff there was on that island,” Winemiller said. “That’s what scared the hell out of all of us; there were more Japs underground than there were on top of that island by far.”

“There was no safe place,” Skeen added. “You’d go right over those caves and there were a lot of guys that got shot in the back.”

“I remember early on that there was a couple of guys who saw a cave opening and they decided they were going to go in and see what was in there,” Winemiller said. “They thought there’d probably be some dead Japs because they’d thrown a couple hand grenades in there. Well they never came out. They got blasted.”

The conversation turned even more somber. They recalled seeing and hearing about torture and other atrocities on both sides.

“These things happened,” Skeen said. “I wish I could forget it, but I can’t.”

“You’re doing all right,” Winemiller assured him.

They talked about their initial landing, the most dangerous part of the operation. Skeen explained that the Japanese strategy was to allow the Marines to land, then gun them down them while they were assembled on the beach. The sand and loose volcanic ash made for slow going.

“Going in, I could see the smoke and hear the noise, but I didn’t have fear in my heart,” Skeen said. “I didn’t know what was going to happen. We hit the beach, that ramp went down and we went into that ash. It was like getting into a bin of wheat and it got into your shoe tops. After you went over the top of that, you heard a few live rounds and a couple more shells went off. I thought, ‘I’m going to die.’

“It never dawned on me until then. I dove into a shell hole when the mortars went off and about four or five guys came in on top of me. I said, ‘Keep coming, boys.’ I thought they’d give me more protection.

“I didn’t realize death could be so real, so close, until that moment. When you start hearing those live rounds going by your head and the mortar shells go off.”

Talk of life and death naturally led to talk of religion.

“It wasn’t a very pleasant thing, but the good Lord decided to let us hang around for awhile,” Winemiller said.

“When I hit that first shell hole, when I dove in there, I said, ‘Oh God, if you get me off this island alive, I’ll give my life to you’.” Skeen recalled. “They talk about foxhole religion. Believe me, I meant what I said.”

“I do believe that and I think that’s wonderful,” Winemiller said. “It took me a lot longer to do that, but that was an important part of it.”

“I was afraid I was going to die and I knew I wasn’t wanting to die or ready to die.” Skeen said. “Those things are memories that are almost like they happened yesterday. ”

“You’re never going to get rid of it,” Winemiller responded.

“No. I pretty well got over most of it for awhile, but I had a difficult time with it,” Skeen said. “But I’ll tell you one thing, I am proud to have served my country. I don’t know that I did anything really to win the war, but I was there attempting to help and I’m thinking of all those who died there.”

“You did your share,” Winemiller responded. “That’s all you can say.”

Both recalled seeing the American flag flying atop Mount Suribachi, a 550-foot volcanic cone at the southern tip of the island. Six members of a Marine patrol hoisted the flag on Feb. 23, 1945. Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal captured the event in what would become an iconic image from World War II. At the time it also boosted the morale of the troops as well as civilians on the home front.

They also talked about steam from subterranean volcanic activity seeping through cracks in the ground and filling the air with a stench of sulfur.

“It was so hot a lot of times, our foxholes were very warm,” Winemiller said. “You could bury C rations in it and they’d be nice and warm by lunchtime.”

“It was so hot underground, it was 90 degrees all the time,” Skeen added.

Skeen, a corporal, served with a recon company on Iwo Jima He spent 38 days on the island. When it was all over, he returned to Hawaii, where his division regrouped and prepared to invade Japan. However, after the U.S dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan surrendered.

“I don’t know how a lot of people feel, but I think that is one of the best decisions that President Truman made,” Skeen said. “It was very very bad that they had to drop those bombs and kill those people but, from what I saw over there, we would have probably lost millions on both sides because they were suicidal. They had no regard for anything — their own lives or anyone else’s.”

He compared Japanese soldiers, who were expected to die in battle, to modern terrorists.

From the fall of 1945 until May 1946, Skeen served in Japan with U.S. occupational forces.

“We went in and basically our job was to destroy all their military installations, their coastal guns and stuff like that,” he said. “For awhile, we saw no people (except for what he believed to be Japanese police officers). The women and children were taught that the Marines were the most savage men in the world, that all they did was rape and kill. They were very fearful of us. But it wasn’t very long before they realized we weren’t what they’d been told and they warmed up to us.”

Winemiller, who also made the rank of corporal, was assigned to the Joint Assault Signal Company. During the Battle of Iwo Jima, he worked on the front lines, communicating by radio or telephone to the ships, directing naval gunfire.

“I heard a good many shells go over my head,” he said. “Thankfully, they all went over. These weren’t always naval shells; there were artillery shells. At the end of their trajectory, they’d start to wobble and you could hear them coming. I don’t tell you that because it was an exceptional experience. I’m sure every guy that was in the frontline situation had that experience.”

He acknowledged that it could be unnerving, but he and the others didn’t dwell on it.

“I think most Marines I was around were dedicated to the job that needed to be done and weren’t just sitting around worrying about whether they were going to get killed,” Winemiller said.

After the Battle of Iwo Jima and Japan’s surrender, he was sent to north China to help repatriate Japanese soldiers who had been stationed there. His unit also helped Chinese nationalists, who were being threatened by Chinese communists active in the region.

As the interview wound down, Skeen and Winemiller talked about being grateful for their longevity and having survived Iwo Jima. For 72 years, they’ve carried the burden of painful memories. In the twilight of their lives, they have been blessed with a newfound friendship that allows them to share that burden and reflect on lives well lived.

Their experiences have given them a deeper appreciation of life — and for what lies beyond.

“The best is yet to come,” Skeen said.

 

Along with the story, I wrote what is called in the newspaper business an info bar. Here it is.

The Battle of Iwo Jima

Iwo Jima History

A small island 4.5 miles long and 2.5 miles wide, Iwo Jima is part of the Volcano Islands. The islands were Japanese territory, administered by the City of Tokyo. Prior to the Battle of Iwo Jima, about 1,000 civilians inhabited the island, living in six settlements. Most were involved in sulfur mining. Some harvested fish from the ocean or raised meager sugar cane and pineapple crops on what little arable soil there was. The civilians were forcibly evacuated just before the U.S. invasion with the exception of about 400, who were detained and pressed into construction duty.

 Before the Battle

Japan had a naval installation on the island before WWII. In anticipation of the U.S. invasion, they built two airfields and were working on a third.

 Strategic Importance

Located about 650 miles from Japan, the island served as a base for Zero fighter planes, which harassed U.S. bombers conducting raids on Japan. It also provided Japan with two hours warning of impending aerial attacks. Iwo Jima was halfway between the Mariana Islands and Japan. Seized from Japanese forces in August 1944, the Marianas served as a base for U.S. bombers. American forces planned to use Iwo Jima for emergency landings for American B-29 bombers. After the U.S. took Iwo Jima, 2,400 B-29 bombers carrying 27,000 U.S. airmen made emergency landings there.

 Japanese Strategy

Led by Gen. Tadamichi Kuribayashi, Japanese troops planned to die on the island — at the hands of the enemy or by suicide. Each man was ordered to sacrifice his own life and take 10 American soldiers with him. The plan was to inflict heavy casualties so the U.S. would lose its resolve and be reluctant to further its attacks on Japanese territory. The Marines sent in 70,000 troops and lost nearly 7,000 men. Kuribayashi knew what he was up against. He had been educated in Canada and had served as a military attaché there and in the U.S. It’s assumed he was killed March 21, 1945. In his final official dispatch Kuribayashi commented, “The strength under my command is about 400. The enemy suggested we surrender through a loudspeaker, but our officers and men just laughed and paid no attention.” His body was never found.

 Iwo Jima Today

The U.S. returned possession of the Iwo Jima to Japan in 1968. The island, marked with shrines honoring American and Japanese soldiers, is open only once a year for a guided tour limited to veterans, their family and a limited number of journalists. Last year, American and Japanese survivors were brought together to the island to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the battle and to honor those who died there. Cledith Skeen passed on an opportunity to visit Iwo Jima last year. “I could have gone, but I had no desire to,” he said.

 

Other Facts

  • In “Guadalcanal Diary,” the movie that inspired Tom Winemiller to join the Marine Corps, several Marines appeared as extras. Some of them were among the Marines who invaded Iwo Jima. Also, parts of the movie were filmed at Camp Pendleton in California, where Winemiller and Skeen took some of their military training.
  • Mount Suribachi derives its name from a Japanese term for “grinding bowl.”
  • Iwo Jima has no streams, ponds or lakes. The Japanese relied on wells and collected rainwater to survive.
  • The large flag raised over Mount Suribachi, which replaced the smaller one originally placed there, had been recovered from a sinking ship in Pearl Harbor.
  • The flag raising was also captured on 16mm film by Sgt. William Genaust, a Marine Corps photographer. According to Skeen, he didn’t live to see the footage he shot. Genaust was killed in action nine days later while searching a cave for Japanese soldiers.

 

Sources: “World War II Pacific Island Guide: A Geo-Military Study” by Gordon L. Rottman, World War II Database, the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, iwojima.com, “Combat Camera” by Patrick Brion, “Iwo Jima: Combat to Comrades,” a PBS documentary, Tom Winemiller and Cledith Skeen. Numbers of troops and casualties vary slightly, depending on the source.

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Cledith Skeen, left, and Tom Winemiller

 

 

 

Crash Course in Journalism

In official jargon, the State Highway Patrol calls them crashes. When I was a journalist, that’s what I called them, too.

I want to spit every time I see fellow journalists use the term “accident.”

They’re not accidents. Crashes are generally the result of excessive speed, aggressive driving, impaired driving or driver inattention. In other words, a conscious disregard for the safety of other human beings.

A bit of advice for fellow journalists. Avoid using the term “accident.” Call it what it really is — an inevitable.

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Making history – and my day

They call them the greatest generation for a reason

Norma Snyder with the flag replica she made from scratch – now on display at the Cleo Redd Fisher museum in Loudonville.

Norma Snyder with the flag replica she made from scratch – now on display at the Cleo Redd Fisher museum in Loudonville.

I have to admit that my years with the Ashland Times-Gazette represented a coming of age. When I arrived there in 1997, I had no idea what to do. All I had going for me was raw writing talent and an instinct for tracking down stories. I also had one major handicap; I thought the world revolved around me.

It took a few years, but I gradually realized that journalism isn’t about journalists. It’s about the people we cover. It’s a sacred trust. It’s about capturing the essence of the people and their times – not just to let them know their lives counted for something, but to preserve those nuances for future generations.

I recently had the privilege of interviewing a member of what has been described as the greatest generation, the folks who carried us through the Great Depression and World War II. It was one of the most touching interviews I’ve ever done. I’ll let her story speak for itself.

This article appeared in the June 30 Loudonville Times.

LOUDONVILLE — During World War II, Norma Snyder helped make history at the Flxible plant. Seventy-one years later, she remade history — this time for the Cleo Redd Fisher Museum.

At the age of 17, Snyder worked at the plant, making airplane parts for the war effort. She was on hand in August 1944 when Flxible was honored with the Army-Navy “E” Award flag for outstanding production of war materials.

It was quite an honor for Flxible, which also produced gondolas for blimps and naval sonar components. During the war 85,660 companies produced war materials. Only five percent received “E” Awards. In 1945, Flxible received a renewal of the award for continued excellence. That allowed them to add a white star to the flag.

Somewhere along the line, the flag got lost. Snyder, a former Mohican Historical Society board member and longtime museum volunteer, remade history by sewing a full-size replica of the flag. She brought it in to the museum earlier this month and it’s now on display in the lobby.

Snyder is a quilter and has experience making large banners for her church, Zion Lutheran Church of Loudonville. So, museum curator Kenny Libben asked her in April to make a reproduction to replace the lost one.

She was reluctant at first.

“I’m 88 years old and I don’t take on new projects if I can help it,” she said. “I decided that, if I had experience with making banners at my church, it was something I could do. So I said would.”

It wasn’t easy. All she had for reference were photos of the original.

“It was a challenge to find supplies, the fabric and all the different things we needed,” Snyder said. “It wasn’t ordinary fabric, so I ended up going to four different towns to find what I needed. I went to Berlin in Holmes County, then Mansfield, Ashland, then I went to Columbus where I found the last of the things I needed.”

Her daughter, Connie Snyder McGowan, a retired art teacher living in Columbus, helped with the letters.

The shape of the flag, a design known as a swallowtail, also made the job challenging.

Working part-time, it took Snyder more than two months to gather the materials and make the eight-foot by four-foot flag.

Snyder had a special connection to the original flag. She was among the workers who helped earn it and among those who posed for a photo with the flag outside the plant in August 1944. The people in the photo probably represented only one shift. Snyder is hoping that the new flag will inspire others who worked there or posed for the photo to come together

“I’m hoping that, with the article, maybe people will contact Kenny (Libben) or me and we can gather whoever is left and get another photograph,” Snyder said. “I know of about five local people I could find, some of them older than myself. Time’s a-wasting.”

Snyder, whose maiden name was Stitzlein, was only 17 and still attending Loudonville High School when she started working at the plant. She worked during the summer before she graduated in 1944 and full-time afterward.

A lifetime Loudonville area resident, she attended Greentown School, a one-room schoolhouse that still stands on the property of a relative at County Road 775 and Ohio 95. The building was moved there from another location near County Road 775, commonly known as Honeycreek Road.

“When I was in fourth grade, they consolidated Loudonville Schools and then we rode the school bus,” Snyder said. “Before then we walked — uphill both ways. Actually, it was because it was hills.”

She went to work at Flxible because the company was doing war work.

“We were making the lower aft fuselage of a cargo plane,” Snyder said. “We had sheets of aluminum and you had framework and a jig it was on. I was not a riveter. I was one of those who drilled the holes for the riveters. They called the aluminum skin and we were the skin gang.”

Most the workers on her crew were women.

“There were some men, and a lot of young people like me,” she said.

Snyder was no stranger to hard work.

“I lived on a farm, so I was used to working,” she said. “It was kind of a novelty because, in those days, we didn’t have three or four cars. We had one car and it went to town maybe one day a week, or one night. So it was kind of an experience for me because I was kind of naïve. It was not bad, but it was interesting and we got paid — not much, but we got paid.”

Flxible was the lifeblood of the community back then. The company provided employment for area residents, often from the time they graduated high school until they retired. For many, it was a family affair.

“I had three sisters who worked in the office at that time and one of my brothers worked there for a short time before he went into the service,” Snyder said.

She continued to work at Flxible for a year or so until war production tapered off.

“I went to Minnich Beauty School in Mansfield and I was a beautician for awhile,” Snyder said. “Then I got married and started having children.”

She and her husband, Robert Snyder who passed away 18 years ago, had five children. Four live in the Columbus-Delaware area and one in Lexington in Richland County. The family has grown to 14 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

“So, we started something, didn’t we?” she said.

Snyder was the youngest of nine children. Three of them are still living. Her husband had nine siblings.

“There were six boys and four girls, and four of the boys in his family were in World War II and one was in the Korean War,” she said.

In 1951, her husband built a building and rented it out for a couple of years.

“Then we started having building supplies and had a construction company and I also worked in that business, Modern Home Supply and Loudonville Construction,” she said. “The store on State Route 3 is still in the family. My husband’s nephew has it now, Mark Snyder.”

The Snyders built many houses in the area.

She remains active with the historical society.

“I’ve been a member for many many years, but I don’t do as many physical things as I used to,” Snyder said.

She’s hoping more people will step up and help preserve the area’s history for future generations.

“We’d like to get young people in,” Snyder said. “As time goes on, you lose people or (older) people can’t do all that. That’s true in every group I belong to.”

Her effort to replace the lost Army-Navy “E” Award flag helped preserve a part of that history.

When Snyder stopped by the museum last week, curator Libben thanked her for all her hard work.

“It was a labor of love,” she responded.

Perhaps the same could be said for her efforts during the war years — and throughout her life.

But then, that’s how history is made. And preserved.

The Cleo Redd Fisher Museum and Mohican Historical Society can be contacted at (419) 994-4050 or by email at info@crfmuseum.com. The website can be accessed at http://www.crfmuseum.com/ and the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CleoReddFisherMuseum?fref=ts.

Flxible employees gathered for a photo with their “E” Award flag in August 1944. Norma Snyder is the fourth person to the right of the flag in the front row.

Flxible employees gathered for a photo with their “E” Award flag in August 1944. Norma Snyder is the fourth person to the right of the flag in the front row.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where is Norman Rockwell when you need him?

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Sean Gorrell, the kid with the police arm patch, visiting with Kevin Taylor. Taylor is now Loudonville Chief of Police; Gorrell is his newest offcer.*

Life has come full circle in Loudonville, Ohio, and I’m grateful for having witnessed it.

Fourteen years ago, while working for the Ashland Times-Gazette, I wrote an article about Loudonville Police Sgt. Kevin Taylor, a man who clearly loved his job and his hometown. Over the years, I had the pleasure of watching Taylor advance through the ranks. He’s now police chief.

Fast-forward to May 18. While covering a village council meeting, I witnessed the swearing-in of a young police officer, a 23-year-old named Sean Gorrell. The Loudonville Times asked me to find a subject for a profile piece. Since Gorrell was a local boy, born and raised there, I thought he fit the bill.

While working on the piece, Taylor told me Gorrell had been one of two boys mentioned — and pictured — in the story I’d written about him 14 years earlier. Gorrell was 9 years old at the time. And an aspiring police officer.

Sometimes stories write — and rewrite — themselves.

For the benefit of those who don’t subscribe to the Loudonville Times, I’ll include a PDF version of the story. Click on the link below:

gorrellarticle

* A few people have asked about the other boy in the photo. He’s Christopher Rooks. He was 7 years old when the photo was taken. The photographer was Amy J. Van Horn.

 

 

Tackling Friday morning quarterbacks

When covering a murder case, the truth should not be the second victim

What’s the difference between a punching bag and a journalist? A punching bag doesn’t feel pain.

I’m still reeling from the unfair criticism that I was obliged to endure as a journalist. But it went along with the territory and I can accept that.

Like the night a city council member criticized me during a council meeting for not doing my homework. This was at a time when council members and other city officials spent every waking moment looking for ways to hide the textbooks, so to speak.

But that’s not what this rant is about. This rant is about unfair criticism posted last night on Facebook about a murder case we covered three years ago. (Yes, I realize that anything posted on Facebook should be taken with a grain of salt. But, now that I’m retired and don’t have to take this crap lying down, I feel obligated to respond.)

The Facebook post praised our competitor, an out-of-town newspaper prone to sensationalism, while taking us to task for not providing coverage supportive of the victim’s family. Mind you, I take a lot of responsibility for the coverage because I was the criminal justice reporter at the time and my input carried weight in how the story was played.

The truth is we were very supportive of the victim’s family because we made it a point not to be pushy. I gave them opportunities to comment, they declined and I left them alone with an open invitation to contact me anytime.

Yes, we got beat up by the competition and big-city TV stations on that count. I’ll take that ass-whipping any day. Sometimes it’s better not to pursue a story. Or to wait until the time is right.

Eventually, I did connect with family members and we had a touching and insightful interview. After the interview, I returned to my desk and wrote the story with tears welling in my eyes. The story speaks for itself.*

That said, my paper thoroughly covered — complete with previews — all efforts to memorialize the victim and raise funds for her family.

I’m also proud to say that, while police were searching for the perpetrator, my paper didn’t jump into the fray, recklessly reporting false leads. That includes a Columbus woman’s dubious claim that she saw the perpetrator and his car in the parking lot of her apartment complex. Police information released after the murderer was taken into custody indicated that, at the time in question, his car had been located in southwest Michigan. It had been there at least three weeks without being moved.

I’m also proud to say that, during a custody hearing connected to the case, we were not a part of the media frenzy incorrectly reporting that the perpetrator’s family had filed for custody of a child he and the victim had together. That was not the case. The motion they filed was clearly procedural and meant to protect their right to be included as participants in the case.

Few of the media outlets involved in this blatant act of sensationalism ever acknowledged the truth, made corrections or offered clarifications.

Our coverage speaks for itself. If you have a subscription to the Ashland Times-Gazette, all you need do is enter names from the case in the search box. You’ll find plenty of reliable information there.

Remembering Lynn Jackenheimer, one year later – Times-Gazette _ Ashland & Ashland County, Ohio

◊ Summerfield’s parents file motion in custody case – Times-Gazette _ Ashland & Ashland County, Ohio