Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bronco Pride: Jefferson Township High School Alumni

The Jefferson Township Alumni Banquet is often fondly shortened to just "The Alumni" by older graduates (like my dad, from the class of 1941).  This is his 70th class reunion, but "Squz" or "Scud" as he was known, will only attend in spirit, as he has since his final appearance at "The Alumni" in 2001.  He was pleased to join his class for their 60th and always proud of his Jefferson Township High School origins.  He served as class president his senior year, with Thomas Recher as VP, and Secretary-treasurer Ruth Baker.  Mr. Becker was their class advisor.  Jefferson Pride also abounds for the solid beginnings enjoyed by the alumni who will assemble June 24 at the Miami Valley CTC for the annual celebration.

Few know that Dad's class was the first to enter the first grade in the new school in 1929.   Mrs. Mabel Eberly was their teacher.  They proudly mentioned their status in their class poem (the first two stanzas of which are reproduced below) at graduation time in 1941:

                                  Farewell, dear friends and teachers, all,
                                  Our schooling now is done;
                                  We were the first, so you recall,
                                  To start at Jefferson.
                                  We hate to leave you, Jefferson,
                                  The school of our ideal;
                                  And as we file out one by one,
                                  Our losses we shall feel.

The class of 1961 will be featured as the celebrated 50 year class.  Their stories will be deftly summarized by a class leader as attendees reflect on the uniqueness of the individuals and the traditions of the early 60's.  Tom Kerschner was class president with Sam Powers as VP, Bob Hayward was treasurer and Carrol Foote served as secretary.  Janice Behnken was a leader and athlete whom I remember most as the Head Drum Majorette.  Jerry Schell was an all around person as athlete, leader, singer, scientist and May Day Attendant. Richard Anspach and Dave Barker were leaders in several organizations and scholarly.  Butch Erbaugh was another leader-athlete who quarterbacked the football team. Charles Gau was "Manager of all sports".

Sue Babington and Barbara Carlton both took 7 lines in the yearbook to list their activities, and Liberty native Nancy Adams was a five liner who was super active in everything. Myrna Derringer diversified into sports and science while Janet Bunting was another smart person who did FTA, band, and chorus. Many others such as Nancy Seltzer, Eileen Mooney (Bullet Bob's sister) and Sandra Shank, Judy Heindl, Shirley Marable, Barbara Boling, and the all around scholar-athlete Martha cordell were in activities such as Tri-Hi Y, FTA, GAA, Band, Chorus, class plays, volleyball and the operetta.  Ralph Golden was a band guy who played the sax.  Rex Hunn, Sam Powers and Roger Ogletree were also 3 sport athletes.   Many other athletes come to mind from football, basketball, track and baseball, such as Albert Tucker who could dunk in basketball and went on to play pro basketball in Seattle, Reggie McDaniel, Tom Kerschner, "Big" Jim Coffee who could also dunk in basketball, "Skippy" (Harold) Schenck, David Moyer, Terry Bailey, Pat Shelby, Rex Mitchell, Tom Reich who also worked on the annual staff and others.

Doug Kreitzer and Gail Long were in Hi-Y.  Gail was a very active explorer scout and farmer on the side.  Bud Spitler also was in Hi-Y as well as Chorus, baseball, basketball, class play and class leadership. Kay Stauffer, June Middleton, Judy Bergen and Joy Huber were in Tri-Hi-Y, Chorus and/or Band, FTA or FHA and JCOWA or librarian.  Do you know who did what?  Do they even remember themselves?

Sue Rawlins, Ed Shaw, Dee Slyder, Chuck Reid, Patti Reid, Rodney Stewart, Winsford Sparkman, Margaret Stamper, Janet Stricklin, Marlene Thompson, St. Clair Tims, Phillip Tolliver, Gladys Walton, Carlotta Zaborowski, Donna Wolfe, Jack Witherby, Joyce Wiles, Beverly Quigg, deanna Powell, Michael Petrey, Mary Parker, Nonie Moore, Shirley McKisic, Lee Mccauley, Joe Mann, Michael Mandich, Jacqueline Magwood, Earl Lightcap, Oliver Hudson, Karen Hepner, Lonnie Johnson, Doug Justice, Edward Adams, James Aubrey, Denvie Banks, Roger Barriteau, Barbara Brackett, Roger Brooks, Gwen Carter, Connie Cavin, Shirley Clark, Richard Clayton, Irene Clemons, Portia Dorsey, Tom Eby, Rachel Foust, Sandra Foust, Roy Frock, Eileen Gebby, Pat Grant, Melanie Hall, Hazel Hamilton, William Hauser are members of the class to look for at the banquet to relive old memories and guess what they did in high school if you really want to know.  Wow- big class!

Later in the class of 1961 alphabet come Nancy Weidel, Karl Wardlaw and Susi Wintermute, three solid citizens of Liberty. Nancy was a majorette, May Day Attendant and a member of pep club, FTA and Tri-Hi-Y.  Susi was a cheerleader and played 3 sports as a sophomore. Karl served as AV technician  and class play technician.  Oops, more Liberty people include Larry Stivers and Clara Lightcap, both of whom rode my bus.  Please consult your 1961 and 1962 Jeffersonians to read about more people and learn more about the class of '61 at "The Alumni".

As a youngster from the class of 1964, I enjoy the incredible "Naming of the Graduates" by MC Joy Weaver, who starts by calling out the class year of the oldest attending graduate, followed by naming that person and almost every other graduate who stands just after their class year is announced.  She is a Jefferson "genealogist" with her knowledge of the individuals and families constituting the lineage of our alma mater.  Her performance alone is worth attending the event.

Many of my childhood heroes are Jefferson alums, including Donny Myers, who drilled in a jump shot at the buzzer to win a tough basketball game played at the fairgrounds colliseum, and Maxon Weaver who had an impressive hook shot as center in basketball.  Max  and cousin Stuart Allen also each played one of the male lead parts in H.M.S. Pinafore with Barbara Jean Drake nailing the role of Little Buttercup.  "I am the captain of the sea, the ruler of the queen's navy..." rings in my ears whenever I reflect on that musical and how mesmerized I was by the high school performers.

Stories of Jefferson alumni could go on forever, and they will.  Join them in person the fourth Friday of each June.  Call Jean Ney for reservations each year.  Thank you to the memory of Adam Becker for his leadership over many years to help so many to learn so much.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Memories of Father's Day and Fathers in Liberty

It's Father's Day again.  I remember the Cincinnati Reds played at Crosley Field on many Father's Days when I was young, affording the opportunity for Mike and I to go to the game a few extra-special times with our dad and both grandfathers.  Right after church, we changed and loaded into a car already packed with soft drinks and sandwiches to allow us a lunch en-route to Cincinnati.  We usually had everything eaten/consumed before we got through Miamisburg.  There was no interstate in those days, so we went "the back way" through Middletown.

Frank Robinson (hit 38 homers as a rookie in 1956), Vada Pinson, Ted Kluszewski, Wally Post, Gus Bell, Ed Bailey, Smokey Burgess, Johnny Temple, Roy McMillan, Alex Grammas, Ray Jablonski, Jerry Lynch, Don Gross, Joe Nuxhall, Hersh Freeman, Hal Jeffcoat, Brooks Lawrence,  and others played just for us, it seemed, on Father's Day.

We managed to get hungry before the end of the baseball game to get hot dogs with the incredible stadium mustard that seemed unique to Crosley Field.  The souvenirs were always special, including the little bats signed by a ball player and the photos of the whole team.  We took our ball gloves but never came close to catching a foul ball.  We kept score in the program, with instruction from dad and the grandpas.  We had to race out for the hotdogs during the 7th inning stretch so we wouldn't miss out in the score keeping.  I wanted to put my own mustard on since I loved it so much.

Grandpa Jonas always had a beer at the park, and always showed loyalty by only buying a brand that paid to broadcast the games (Wiedemann's sponsored the radio games broadcast by Waite Hoyt, the former Yankee's pitcher in the 20's, with Burger and Hudepohl being the other main beers supporting the Reds).  All of us marveled at the mustard, the Reds and the fans.  Special memories of special people on Father's Day, my dad and grandfathers, together.

All of us have or had a father.  Liberty had lots of them.  Pete Alread was the father of Peggy and Donna.  They all lived on back Street with Gladys, daughter of Ernie Speidel who lived "uptown" next to the Pure station.  Pete was a special guy who had interesting hobbies and pastimes.  He had a metal detector at one time that found a lot of useful and useless items.  It was fun to look at the various items Pete found here and there, and heartening to hear his enthusiasm for the "Quest" for special treasures.

I also liked to hear Pete tell of his trips to Indiana to Lake Webster and to the Connersville Smorgasboard.  He and Gladys would often stop in to chat in the summer with those of us sitting on the porch of Grandma (Fanny) and Grandpa (Bill) Clayton. They came via the alley between our house and the Riches after passing the Lodge's and crossing the Liberty creek on the way back from the Speidel's.  They shared the "uptown" word with the Back Street folks, among other shared stories.  Neighbor to neighbor, sharing was reassuring.  Fathers were present and visible in the community.  We learned from them and by their examples.

Please remember in addition to those mentioned above, on this Father's Day these Liberty Dads:  Lowell Lodge, Bob Weidel, George Wintermute, Charles Whitaker, Jim Whitaker, Ed Whitaker, Bill Knoll, Thurman Rich, Bob Friend, Roy Strader, Everett Ashworth, Louie Adams, George Speelman, Jerry Hoffman, Henry Bussey, Earl Rieger, Roy Michael, Vernie Michael, Bob Holtzman, George Heeter, and Bob Stivers are a few names that come to mind when I think of Liberty fathers in my years of childhood.  There are many others whose first names I never knew including Mr.'s Longhenry, Thompson, Landrum, Hill, Peek, Toms, Mays, Wyant, Adkins, Eller, .  Apologies to those I forgot or never knew.  Feel free to comment about these and other fathers in the comment section below.

Have a meaningful Father's Day.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Bazooka and Dubble Bubble Gum in Liberty

Chewing gum and bubble gum were always favorite purchases "uptown" at the grocery or filling station in Liberty.  Speaking of gum, who can forget Bazooka and Dubble Bubble Gum?  Remember Bazooka Joe and the little comics included with Bazooka Bubble Gum?  Do you remember the comics with Dubble Bubble?  They featured Dub and Bub, replaced by Pud in 1950 (I don't remember them).  I chewed Bazooka.  It was a rectangular package.  The Dubble Bubble had the wrapped ends and was round like a Tootsie Roll.

The two bubble gums are competitors, so thinking back 50 or more years may yield some fog, but I remember both brands and the comics/coupons in Bazooka.  I collected them for some reason, but don't remember if I ever mailed in the coupons with or without money to get stuff.  (I do remember redeeming coupons for a decoder ring that kids could use with a TV show- that was slick- but I forgot the show).

Blowing bubbles was more fun with a good sized piece of gum like these two favorites.  The gumballs from gumball machines were a bit weak for bubbles.  We kids enjoyed brief bubble competitions to see who could blow the biggest bubble.  I don't remember any super champions in the neighborhood, but the competition was gender neutral with Sylvia, Bobby W, Mike, Donna and I doing our best for the biggest bubble.  Other Liberty eras probably had their own bubble traditions.  What were yours?

Topps and Fleer were the competitiors making the bubble gum and, later, the baseball cards that included their gum to entice us into becoming card collectors.  Ever buy a ten-15 year old box of  sports cards with gum and actually chew the gum?  It was like cardboard gum (since I did it -too cheap to throw away the gum initially).

Fleer invented bubble gum years after they were a leading chewing gum company.  Later, they were bought by Tootsie Roll Company.   Here is a history of Double Bubble Gum from Wikipedia:
"Dubble Bubble is a brand of bubble gum invented in 1928 by Philadelphia-based Fleer. Walter E. Diemer — an accountant at Fleer — enjoyed experimenting with recipes during his free time. In an interview a few years before his death, he said, "It was an accident". In 1937, the gum went on the market nationally. It featured a comic strip that came with the gum starting in 1930, featuring twin brothers Dub and Bub. They were replaced by a new character named Pud in 1950.

Dubble Bubble was distributed in military rations during World War II until 1942. Due to war efforts, latex and sugar became scarce, briefly putting a halt to bubble gum manufacturing in the U.S. By 1951, Fleer was again able to manufacture Dubble Bubble, and in 1954, the company began sponsoring bubble gum blowing contests, which grew in popularity and were eventually televised. In 2000, this spirit was resurrected when Concord Confections, which bought Dubble Bubble in 1998, began a nationwide bubble gum blowing contest for children aged 12 and younger in Wal-Mart stores across America. The contest ended after 2005.
Dubble Bubble was introduced as the first five-pack of gum in 1957, and began selling gumballs in 1999. Fleer eventually extended the line to apple, grape, cherry and watermelon flavors.

When Concord Confections bought the Dubble Bubble name from Fleer in 1998, they did not use Fleer's original 1928 Dubble Bubble recipe, and comic strips were discontinued; Pud remained mascot. In August 2004, Tootsie Roll expanded its presence in the bubble gum category by acquiring Concord Confections. Today, Dubble Bubble continues to grow, with Tootsie adding product extensions like Dubble Bubble Mini Tubs and Halloween Combo packaged gumballs and expanding distribution globally. The gum is sold in 50 countries.
The bubble gum creation process was shown on an episode of How It's Made."

From Wikipedia about Bazooka Bubble Gum:  "It was first marketed shortly after World War II in the U.S. by the Topps Company of Brooklyn, New York. The gum was packaged in a patriotic red, white, and blue color scheme. Beginning in 1953, Topps changed the packaging to include small comic strips with the gum, featuring the character "Bazooka Joe". There are 50 different "Bazooka Joe" comic-strip wrappers to collect. Also on the comic strip is a fortune and an offer for a premium and a fortune.[1] The product has been virtually unchanged in over 50 years."

The comics with the bubble gum have an interesting history that is reviewed here:
for Bazooka Joe
for Dubble Bubble

Which one did you chew?  How big were your bubbles?  Do you still chew it?  And blow bubbles?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Bikes, Pea Shooters and Gumball Machines

Once the school years started, summer became a special time in Liberty.  We could ride our bikes every day.  Around town, up and down Back Street- as far west as Freda and Ronnie Hill's house (Doc Hall's office) or east to Lloyd and Alvena Michael's farm, depending on how tight a rein Mom thought we needed.  The town grocery and the Pure oil station, both at the four way stop that defines the center of town, were favorite stops when I was 7-10 years old (and later).

I remember one summer we had a pea shooter fad that started at the grocery with purchase of straws or a soft drink that came with a straw and a bag of tapioca.  The tapioca was the best thing to shoot from a straw, but the traditional ammunition was the pea, hence the title of pea shooter.  Now I note at craft fairs the making of awesome marshmallow shooters from plastic pipes, but plastics weren't part of life in the "old days".  Mike and Bobby Whitaker and I would shoot each other with the pea shooters.  We also shot at tin cans, milk bottles, balloons, paper targets, etc. I think other kids were involved but can't remember exactly who.  My wife, Rebecca (Michael) used to shoot beans through a straw at her siblings on the farm on Liberty Ellerton Road.  They still sell plastic versions of the pea shooter with plastic pellets now if you need a cute gift for your grandchildren.  If you ever shot a pea shooter, feel free to comment with stories at the bottom of this post in the comment section.

Parents weren't prone to enjoy the fun of blowing tapioca across a room at each other or us, so they were excluded from the fun.  They did warn us to "be careful" to not shoot someone in the eye, because "so and so got shot in the eye with a BB gun and is blind in that eye".  Each community seemed to have a mandate for inclusion of someone who had been shot in the eye with something so parents had a real example for warning their children.  Doug Cannon had a BB gun, but we never got one due to the parental "shoot someone in the eye fear".

Another fad that interested me was collecting tiny light bulb shaped gumball prizes that glowed in the dark after being exposed to light.  The penny gumball machine had the small gumballs and these glowy items at the corner grocery.  After using my few available pennies, I resorted to jimmying pennies out of my piggy bank (literally a glass pig about 7 inches by 10 inches) with a knife to get more light bulb prizes.  I had to chew a lot of gumballs to get each prize.  This obsessive focus resulted in minor damage to the hole in my piggy bank, which probably gives it diminished worth if anyone ever sells it on E-Bay.  Gumball machines have the same effect on children now as then, but no prize could be as cool as those little light bulbs.  The history of gum and gumball machines is very interesting.
History of gumball machines
History of chewing gum and bubble gum

Pat Jonas