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Skip Schweitzer

Skip Schweitzer
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Skip Schweitzer, of Mantua, can be described from early on in life as an avid outdoorsman and old car restorer and aficionado. He comes from a long line of great lakes fishermen and hunters. He is a taxidermist and a retired psychologist. His grandfather Charles, a machinist and fisherman who fed his family with fish during the Great Depression, was one of the original auto restorers at the Thompson Auto Museum, now the Crawford Auto Aviation Museum. Skip learned to hunt, fish and restore cars from his father Roy and learned the value and appreciation of antique automobiles from his grandfather. Skip has, over the years, restored upwards of 25 automobiles including many Fords, Studebakers, Buicks, Jeeps and VWs. Skip has written extensively on automobiles and outdoors for several newspapers, magazines and auto publications this past 20 years. His current antique automobiles include a 1930 Ford Model “A”, and a 1970 Volkswagen Cabriolet. Skip’s most frequent bylines are, Outdoors With Skip, and The Old Road.

What do you do when, at 67 you find yourself single and alone again?  The reasons for this often include, your mate passed away, or perhaps you and/or your mate decided to end a 1-40 year relationship for whatever reasons.  At any rate you are now alone in the house, responsible for everything.  Assuming that bereavement is an ongoing part of this process, you realize that somehow you have to carry on, however dismal this might seem.  This prospect seems rather bleak, given that for 45 years, you have been accustomed to daily predictable conversations with a person you trust and love.  If not love then you have grown used to coexisting and conversing with your mate. You now find that talking mostly  to the dog has its limitations. Suddenly you are faced with a new and unpredictable future.  This is, to say the least, very disquieting, uncomfortable, and oftentimes overwhelming.  Who do you now bounce ideas off of? Who do you ask the advice of for making that special spaghetti sauce that you have taken granted for such a long time?   You tried to make some and it turned out………just awful—thick, globby and bitter. You tossed it in the garbage and ate at Mc Donald’s. You’re also eating way too much at fast food places.  After 8 months you realize that you haven’t had a homemade cake, pie or cookie since….you can’t remember when. Furthermore, where do you go to meet somebody and exactly how do you do that in today’s world? It’s different now!  There is the internet and people say they meet on it.

This ongoing column is dedicated to those of us—you and me– in this same boat. This life after “the sinking” has to be more than just marking time, waiting for…what?  If you are reading this and find it easy to identify with, please come into the lifeboat and take a seat.  In it you might hear of similar trials and tribulations that you have been experiencing. Or maybe it will be different. Maybe you and I are looking for some of the same things.  Just maybe together we can create some answers.  Sometimes things you read here may strike you funny. Oftentimes they will not, and humor will be hard to see and experience. But I will really work hard to somehow see, and get you to see, a lighter side to this experience.  We have to survive this somehow! This will be the ongoing saga of how one man is attempting to cope with the 65 (actually now 68) and single again dilemma.  As with most of my columns you can reach me at the e-mail and numbers at the end of the columns.  I am open to ideas, feedback, and information that maybe helpful to all of us in the same lifeboat. Maybe between us, we can all get to a safe harbor.

COOKIE MAKING 101

I have found that meeting prospective ladies for a man of my age is not quite as easy as “they” would have you believe.  My daughter said, “Why not sign up for some cooking classes? I know you can cook but there will be a greater number of women taking those classes and you might meet someone.  You might also try some book clubs.”  Yeah, well, maybe I’ll try the cooking classes”, I said! (How much worse could this be than my so-far-0-for-100 batting average at meeting women?)  When I was in my 50’s I can remember hearing tales of post-65-aged men being flooded with offers from ladies of similar age, of having a different date every night because of the plethora of available ladies. So went the tales. It may well be that there is an imbalance of women to men, but if you have lived with a very vivacious, smart, athletic woman for 45 years, there is a precedent set that is hard to ignore and tends to greatly narrow the field.

So I signed up for a cookie making class at Maplewood Joint Vocational School.  This school and its adult learning classes is such a gem to our community.  Not nearly enough adults take advantage of it.  Perhaps this would be a venue to meet somebody.  I’d get out of the house for an evening which seems to be a lonely time for me and I just might learn something about making cookies.  Not that I don’t know how to bake but, truthfully, I haven’t made cookies in about 10 years.  Even back then those were some God awful, low-fat cookies that sort of tasted like the cardboard backing of a pad of paper.  My daughter’s husband, then new to the family, was graciously, and gratuitously, saying how good they were.  “Hey, you’re already in the family.  You don’t have to stroke my ego.  These are terrible”, I said!  So from then on I let my wife continue to make the cookies.  Now, no cookies at all!

I arrived about a half hour early for the class which took place in the kitchen of Maplewood Joint Vocational School.  I had been there before maybe 30 years ago to take a welding class.  (Not in the kitchen!)  As I opened the door to the office, the adult class coordinator said “507, room 507, that’s what you want!  Perhaps my covered cake pan gave me away. (The instructions said that you needed to bring some kind of pan to take cookies and goodies home in).  When I reached the room I noted it was indeed the kitchen/classroom for the school’s cafeteria.  These kids here must eat pretty well, I thought to myself.  In amongst the pots and the pans and hanging utensils I saw a man unwrapping a bag of caramel candies and placing them in a double boiler.  I’m here for the cookies class, I announced.   Wonderful, a man for a change (I thought, Carrie, maybe you weren’t wrong!)  Just have a seat until the other two class members show up”, he said.  OK, not a big class, but what the hey.  The other two people turned out to be ladies.  Both seemed to be taking the class for reasons like “something different to do than sitting home watching TV”

After the usual spiel about “watch the knives, don’t wipe your nose and go back to cooking, wash your hands frequently, etc., etc., etc., we began our first task, that of making peanut butter cookies (my request). I immediately confirmed that indeed these kids eat very well here at school.  The recipe which called for one pound of margarine, was quickly replaced with 4 sticks of butter.  “We don’t want to use margarine in cookies. If you melt it down you will find that 90% of margarine is water and only 10% is oil.  This makes for tasteless, blah cookies.  Use only butter when baking!!!”  OK, you’re the boss and obviously a chef, so you must know what you’re doing.   The chef, Ed Klasa, is a very pleasant fellow with a droll sense of humor that initially catches you off guard. You keep wondering, “Is he really serious”? But in short order you realize that this man “knows his stuff” and his dry sense of humor is actually entertaining.  Over the course of the three hour class he kept you on your toes.  He passed out recipes; we began mixing and someone said, “Who measures flour in quarts?  It says to put in 1¼ quarts of flour.”   “Well”, the chef says, “think about it, how many cups in a pint, and how many pints in a quart?  Come on, deduce with me here.  OK, that’s 5 cups of flour—gotta keep your mind working,” he says delightedly.  Although some obviously did not see the humor in that, I got a kick out of it.

We made very rich peanut butter cookies and snicker doodles, and then some concoction of chocolate, graham crackers, the caramel sauce, and peanut butter.  “I ran across this last week and I’m dying to try it.  It is no bake –you just pop it into the freezer for a while”, Ed said.  Problems did arise later though when we tried to cut it up and the caramel stuck to the aluminum foil like gorilla glue.  He laughed and said “OK, that didn’t work.  Next time put the caramel on last.  Next week I’m going to teach you to make the best Baklava you’ve ever tasted.  You should sign up for that class too.”   By the end of the class we all took home a large cake pan full of cookies and goodies.

Now, wasn’t this better than sitting home alone and lonely, talking to the dog again?  Oh, by the way, I’m making baklava next week!

This ongoing column is dedicated to those of us—post 60’ers–  after “the sinking”.   If you identify with it, please come into the lifeboat and take a seat.  This is the ongoing saga of coping with the post 6o and single again dilemma.  I am open to ideas, feedback, and information that maybe helpful to all of us.  You can reach me at tel: 330-562-9801 or e-mail me at Skipstaxidermy@yahoo.com  

“The reunion”, he says. “Oh yeah, you’ve gotta go”, says my friend Don, 80 years old and hasn’t missed a reunion yet.   Class Reunion……These are words that strike terror into the heart of…… me. The word brings trepidation, apprehension, a dredging up of time spent in….limbo.  It seems to hit me in the face with horrible thoughts about what is now and what is no more. This reunion to me is a thing out of time and very out of place. “But you’ve gotta go—it’s your 50 year Class Reunion”, they say. “You will never have another.”

Most of what I am today, whatever that actually means, has little to do with that first 17 years of my life. Of course that is developmentally not true, but characterologically it is so.  High school, particularly when compared to the rest of my life, was not a grand time. It was not even a good time.  It was a plodding through time, a marking time, a waiting for ……dawn?  It is not unlike now again.   Now I am marking time again, waiting for ?????  Am I down to existing to feed the dog?

I force myself to drive to the banquet center and then to walk into the building. I really do not want to be there. I no longer have an ally to fallback upon, no partner. It is not a good feeling.  There are a few others arriving early and likewise walking in.  But I do not recognize them, not even remotely. They could be just people off the streets, a gathering of people from the Cleveland Stadium perhaps. Maybe they really are. I get in line– it is a short line at that early hour—30 minutes before we are supposed to be there. Why am I always so early?  Why can’t I be late?  I’m so damned obsessive compulsive!

There are four or five people at the greeting desk. I vaguely recognize some facial characteristics.  The guy has on a name tag reading “Randolph Peccarillo”.  I don’t recall going to school with any Randolph Peccarillo. There was a Randolph something or another though.  He was the quarterback of the football team. I was a defensive lineman. I guess if I had a last name like that I’d probably change it too. If I had a name like Roy, I’d change it. I couldn’t actually do that though.  It would dishonor my father.  So that must be old Randolph the quarterback.

The greeting party looked at me; I looked at them. No recognition!  Someone said, “Name?”  I said Schweitzer.  “Oh yes, Roy. You must be over here. Let me look in this pile.”  Sort… sort…. sort. “Now I have to believe it is here.  How do you spell it again?”  SCH……..I say.  “Oh maybe that’s why I can’t find it. I’m at the end of the S’s. Ah, here it is, Roy…..Skip Schweitzer….did they ever call you that in high school?” (No, I think to myself, my life didn’t begin until I left high school. I don’t really recall what they called me in high school).  They gave me a name tag….with Roy Skip Schweitzer on it. It likely should have said Skip Roy Schweitzer –as in, just skip him totally—it would have been more accurate. I say, “Sorry, I haven’t been called Roy in 50 years—it’s very strange to me now.” I recognize one of the ladies at the greeting table. It is Donna something or another, one of the prettiest girls of the class, someone I would love to have known but someone who was in a different galaxy than me when I was in high school (probably my perception, not hers). Fifty years and she hasn’t lost a thing.

Someone directs me to the next table. This guy looks somewhat familiar.  The nametag says Mike Piston. He was a running back on the team.  “Good to see you, I’m glad you’re here,” he says.  “How are you?”  I fumble…….. “Well, I’m here,” I hear myself say. I’d like to say, “Hi Mike, How are you, Good to see you”, but it’s not there, not in me just right now.  “Here, put those tickets in here; you may win a prize”, he says.   Mike hands me a coffee cup with some beads in it, some plastic flowers and trinkets, and a class picture with 250 people in it.   “Were you at the 10 year reunion/” he asks.  “I honestly don’t know. I don’t remember”, I say.  “Well, find yourself in the picture and were going to line up that same way and have a group picture taken, so you can compare now to then”, he says.  Yeah, right, that’s exactly what I want to do…. compare now to then.

I walk around in a fog.  There are a very few places to sit down except at one of the banquet tables.  There are maybe fifty tables scattered around the large room, all with six or seven place settings.  I think, 7 time 50 equals 350.  Are there that many people expected?  Well, maybe with wives and husbands. There were some 475 people in our class.

I am here alone, by myself.  Me, no wife, no guest, just me, like it was back then in high school. Nobody to turn to and say, “Boy this is strange.” I feel profoundly out of time and place. I don’t want to be here.  I fight the urge to walk back out the door, get into my car and leave.  I want to, though; I want out.  Inwardly, terror is mounting.  I don’t want to be here.

I walk around.  I see some pictures taped to the wall. It is the whole 1964 football team.  There I am in all my very young and innocent, radiant glory on the wall.  Who is that really? What universe did he come from?  That is not me. Was that ever me?  Next to the football team are maybe 50 pictures of other people.  It is an “In Memorium Wall”– people who are no longer with us, people who have died. Some of the prettiest girls are on that wall. Some of the more popular guys are on that wall. Raw memories flash through my mind. I can’t get away from that wall fast enough.

I walk around some more. My legs and back begin to ache.  I spot two chairs behind the reception desk–not exactly a great place to park but if I don’t sit down soon, my legs will give out.  But these people don’t know that. They don’t know that my lower back is crippled with arthritis and my legs get numb.   So I sit down, behind the scenes as they say.  I watch people file in, be greeted and go through the same schtick as I did.  I don’t recognize 99% of them. There is hugging, handshaking, backslapping.  I didn’t have any close enough relationships with girls to hug them back then. Hug them…Hell, I don’t even think I ever actually physically touched a girl until I was in college.  I was a very late bloomer.  I never ever had a meaningful relationship with a girl until I was out of high school and far away from these people. How can I now relate to these people that I have no established meaningful relationship with —Might has well be in Yankee stadium.

“How are you,” someone says.  What does that saying really mean? “Haven’t seen you in a coon’s age,” he says.  How long does a raccoon live anyways, 3-5 years maybe?  I say “I guess I’m still here.”  A terrible response, I suppose, but how I feel.  I’m marking time. Just try and stay until the dinner is served, I re-tell myself, then you can leave.  Two women I can’t identify come up to me and say, “Who are you?”  They look at my name tag and say, “Skip, Skip, Skip- did we have anybody by that name in our class?  Roy, Oh, Roy.”   Then they walk away.   Suddenly, out of nowhere a doddering, shuffling old man comes up to me –he looks far older than me, wearing a gray-brown suit. Maybe it’s one of the teachers—could be a 100 years old! “Is that seat taken”, he says?  “No”, I say, “be my guest”.   I don’t recognize him– his name tag is hard to see.  Maybe I should put mine backwards. It takes me a few minutes to make out his name tag.  It is Ken Sarter, a guy that I used to fight with in junior high school.  He was a cool guy in junior high school—an early bloomer.  I was just….a seed.  He doesn’t recognize me, doesn’t acknowledge who I am.  He just sits there for a long while, then he gets up and shuffles away. I think, “Whatever arthritis I’ve got, he’s got worse.  What a sad thing.  We used to fight, now………..this!”

By now the party center is filling up with hundreds of people.  I don’t know any of them.  I can’t really bring myself to strike up a conversation.  How do you relate to someone who you don’t have a relationship with?  I should put on my therapist hat, but it just doesn’t fit right tonight.  I fumble again when asked something. This happens when I am extremely out of place and uncomfortable.  “How are you?” someone says? Who is asking I can’t seem to ascertain.  “I don’t know really; I’m still here, I guess, whether I want to be or not,” I say.  That pretty much ends the conversation. What do I say to strangers? Strangers from a life lived before my time—an alternate universe or maybe a parallel universe that I was not in. I get an overwhelming urge to leave.  I feel my feet walking through the door without me—an out of body experience.  “Just stay until dinner is served. Hell, I paid $55 for it.  I should at least eat,” I implore myself.   I get up, look around. The place is filling up.  Where will I sit anyway? With more strangers, people I have no rapport with?  Alone in a stadium full of people.  I look down and find my feet walking out the door past some people in line.  As I go out I see no-one I recognize.  Out the door and into my car, I start it up and drive away.  I do not look back.  Never look back.

mantua-pie

Mantua – You might say that the Rotary Pie Auction at the Mantua Potato Festival was a “Smashing” success. Unexpectedly, it became a “pie in your face” experience for some.  That is, if you were willing to up the ante and pay extra bucks to put a pie in the face of the famous baker. At the suggestion of the auctioneer bidding started out at $250 per pie but then he surprisingly upped the stakes to $500 “if you would like to put the pie in the face of the baker”.  At least three people stepped up and did just that.  $500 was paid to “pie in the face Police Chief Harry Buchert (right), and the young children of School Superintendent Dave Toth seized the moment to “pie in the face” dear old  Dad (above).  A crowd of  100 or more looked on and was thoroughly delighted by the antics of the bakers and the buyers.  It is a credit to our community that these two leaders so good naturedly stepped up to the plate (pie).

Some of the comments overheard from the crowd were: “This was so much fun; it was good to see so many community leaders on stage having fun. What good sports these community leaders are; We had a great time, be sure to do it next year; I didn’t know that Rotary did events like this.”

A total of about $3,000 was raised by Rotary’s Sandy Verduin who engineered the Pie Contest.  The profits will go to send young adults to the RYLA leadership camp.

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Emily Sadowski (L) and Suvette and Frankie Gerolium at the soda fountain

Emily Sadowski (L) and Suvette and Frankie Gerolium at the soda fountain

Mantua - A soda fountain in a building with a railroad theme, complete with caboose in front. What does it all mean?  Probably it means that, if there was a train station, then there likely was a diner nearby (diners frequently had soda fountains).  Possibly nostalgia is tied heavily to these two different themes and putting them together is one way of saving both.   We know from prior investigation that soda fountains were originally attached to pharmacies from the beginning because, way back when, soda water was thought to have medicinal properties.  Later, flavorings began to be added to disguise the terrible taste of various medicines procured at the pharmacy. But what is the railroad connection? Is there a railroad connection? Other than the obvious—that Mantua was a stop on the railroad thus a railroad town—were soda fountains placed in Railway stations?  Note to self……Must do some more investigation on that, as there appears to be no obvious connection.

One of the two soda fountains that are still in existence in our readership area is in the front of the store at Mantua Station Drugs on Rt. 44 opposite the High School.  Co-owner Norm Sadowski says that they had it installed when they built the building.  It originally came from Quaker Square in Akron when they were renovating.  According to Norm, ‘The Quaker Square people didn’t know what they were going to do with it; we made a bid on it and they sold it to us lock stock and barrel.  I felt that, historically, pharmacies had soda fountains and we wanted to preserve that historic, antique quality in our new pharmacy.  To be sure it is not exactly a profit maker, but for history’s sake we wanted to have it as part of our store.  We’ve gone through three of the old coke machines.  When the parts wear out, we can’t get new parts, so we have to find a newer machine to replace it.  A few days ago the antique milk shake mixer bit the dust.  We had to put in a modern one. If I find another antique one, though, I’ll pick it up!”

The soda fountain history in Mantua goes back to before Mantua Station Drugs.  Historically, there was a drug store in town across from the old post office on Prospect Street.  Bob Zoller, the owner, had a soda fountain. Bob passed away in 1994.  Bill Zoller, Bob’s son, noted that Bob opened the store on August 13, 1955, and it was called the Mantua Pharmacy.  The newspaper advertising of the day flashed, “Complete prescriptions, tobacco, cameras, candy First Aid needs”, and “New Self Service”.  It also flashed out “Visit our soda fountain specializing in Borden’s Ice Cream”. The ads were followed by the words “Immediately, Accurately, and Economically”. I assume that those words referred to the pharmaceuticals but hey, maybe people wanted a soda immediately, accurately and economically too.   Previous to that Bob had owned Hoard’s Pharmacy in Kent, sold it in 1952, and then bought Triangle Pharmacy in Ravenna. While driving through Mantua on the way to a fishing trip at Punderson he correctly reckoned that this would be a great place to open a new pharmacy. Though there was a small drug store already in existence, it carried little inventory and often had to rely on Bob at Triangle in Ravenna to fill prescriptions.

The soda fountain that was installed in Zoller’s then  – new  pharmacy in 1955 came out of an Akron Hospital when they were remodeling.  “It was a five stool soda fountain, or was it a six?  I’ll have to think on that” say Zoller.    According to son Bill, “A lot of stories were passed over that fountain.  A lot of the history that I heard about Mantua, I heard as a young person in the soda fountain.  I worked there ever since I was old enough to see over the counter, worked after school, after sports.  I was the oldest of the Zoller children. I worked the soda fountain.  Even after I began working in the trucking industry I would take my kids there on a Sunday and get them what they wanted.  Usually when they spent time with grandma and grandpa I was out washing the windows on the store.  We used to sell Borden’s Ice cream—good stuff!!  We had those Stewart infrared sandwiches when they first came out– that was a big seller.” (Stewart Sandwiches were an early attempt at fast food.  They were precooked, frozen, then warmed up by infrared lights in the little oven and served to you usually in about 2-3 minutes. It wasn’t quite like hot off the grill, but they were popular. They had a distinctive taste probably peculiar to infrared heating. I remember them from Aurora Lake when I worked there in the 1960’s).   “I’ve got the old soda fountain cash register out in the garage”, he says.  “Someday I’ll have it restored and put it down in my rec room”. Bob Zoller retired in 1978 and sold the Pharmacy to Norm Sadowski and Rick Wiggers.

According to Norm, “We built the new place and had the soda fountain installed up front. Though it is not exactly a great money maker it is a show piece of the store and the community. On Sunday after church, people would bring their kids in for a cherry coke—a treat.  Evelyn Benner frequently comes to the counter and orders a caramel shake. When we first opened the store, a guy would bring his 80 year old father in on Sundays to have a soda.  He would sit and spin on the seats and say, “Well, that’s what we would do in the old days. Why not do it now?”

Not all the employees are skilled at running the soda fountain.  Emily Sadowsky generally works the fountain except on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Terry Wakefield is the soda fountain’s other designated person.  “We currently sell Velvet ice cream which is made in Ohio”, she says.  “We have chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and the usual sundae toppings and can make anything you ask for. We have the typical root beer floats, coke floats, black cows, and Boston Coolers– a Boston Cooler is ginger ale mixed with ice cream. Sarsaparilla is pronounced saspirella. There is a difference between saspirella, root beer and birch beer. (She gave me some samples, and believe me, there is a difference.  I did not care for the Birch Beer—it has a really sharp taste much more powerful than root beer.) Norm pipes up, “Mr. Hires was a pharmacist. One day he walking through town and noticed a type of dirt that was being dug up at a construction site and it seemed to take the stains off clothes.  He marketed it and used the profits to develop his Hires root beer formula.  If you taste the different root beers you will notice distinct differences.  A & W is more creamy and frothy while Hires is not.”

 

If you have memories, stories, pictures of some of the soda fountains that no longer exist please call me, mail me at THE VILLAGER, 8088 Main Street, Garrettsville 44231. E-mail me at Skipstaxidermy@yahoo.com or give me a call at 330-562-9801. I’d like to hear from you and include these in our Soda Fountain feature.

One of the features of the ship’s itinerary is to make a couple stops at the local villages so that we might get the flavor– experience the ambiance– of the area. One of the towns is Petersburg, settled by Norwegians in the 1800s.  We motored for about three hours south of Juneau on the inland waterway passage of Frederick Sound.  This is part of the inland waterway that stretches from Seattle to Alaska. You can travel all the way and never be exposed to the open Pacific Ocean.  Among other benefits, the water is much calmer than the open ocean.  It is also a world class prime grounds for sighting whales (inset photo) , seals, sea lions and other marine mammals. The water is deep—sometimes 2000 ft. in places but most often 400-600 feet deep.  It never freezes over, and is in the temperate zone where, despite many snowcapped peaks on all sides, the temperature never goes below zero in the winter and summer temps are in the 60-70s.  There are about 110 inches of rain per year making this a temperate coastal rainforest. There are more than 18 hours of daylight in June and 6 ½ hours in December—you can read the paper by natural light at 3 AM in the morning during the summer. The tide can vary as much as 23 feet in one day from high to low tide. If you, perchance, dock at say, high tide, you will undoubtedly have an alpine climb down to your boat if you return 10-12 hours later.

We docked at Petersburg, another village that you can only get to by air or by sea. It is one of the very few outposts of modern civilization in coastal Alaska, most of which are likewise accessible only by air or water. Technically, it is on an island, one of truly countless many in Alaska. (You can’t drive to Juneau, the state capital, either, mostly because of hugely high snowcapped mountains, glaciers and other insurmountable natural barriers.) Fishing is the backbone of the economy, producing 36 million dollars worth of  seafood each year.   Petersburg is an ancient village, the roots of which go back many hundreds of years to when only Native Americans inhabited the area.  Native American Tlingit tribes used the area to fish for salmon and halibut and hunted in the area all year around

These days, Petersburg is a city of about 3000 people.  80 % are Caucasian, 10 % are American Indian and Alaskan Natives, and 10% others. The federal, state and local governments are the largest employers and fishing is the driving force in today’s economy. The town’s seafood processors employ about 1100 people.  Besides fishing, tourism and timber also drive the economy.

As you approach the harbor from the water, at a mile away you begin to make out the masts and deck cranes protruding from many large ocean going fishing boats.  As you get closer you see row upon row of fishing boats like you see on TV’s Deadliest Catch. The vast majority have extremely high bows to fend off large ocean waves and swells.  This is an indication that they don’t just fish the inland waterways but frequently venture out into the open ocean. They are smartly painted, have a couple deck cranes to hoist the nets and crab pots, and are in good repair.  These boats are each worth well over a million dollars and the majority are family owned.

The whole village is about 8 blocks long and three blocks deep—maybe as big as the village of Fairport Harbor on Lake Erie. But the many rows of these magnificent fishing boats are the most impressive sight.

According to the Petersburg Visitors Guide here are some of the more (some less??) memorable things to do in Petersburg: 1) Adventure Tours—local companies can provide Wilderness tours by land sea or air. 2) Fish for king salmon.  3) Bird watching. 4) Nature walks.  5) Check your E-mail. 6) Eat Lutefisk.  7) Restaurants (two). 8) Visit the Viking Ship Valhalia in the Sons of Norway parking Lot.  Checking your E-mail might seem one of the more mundane if not ridiculous options to list……until you realize that you haven’t been able to have any cell phone reception or E-mail reception for 4 days because you are so far out in the bush/mountains/uninhabited water ways.  Eating lutefisk……let’s just say that following the bears to the garbage dump to wallow in dead fish and rotting vegetative matter is a very similar sensual experience.

This is prime whale watching water. Of the estimated 6000 humpback whales in the North Pacific about 1000 of them spend the summer feeding in Southeast Alaska and they enter through the Frederick Sound on which Petersburg is located.  On this trip we encountered myriads of whales frolicking about, feeding, and having a gloriously good time totally oblivious to our presence. The captain would stop the ship and we would expend thousands of photos trying to get just the right picture of a whale breaching or rolling or bubble hunting!  What?? You don’t know what bubble hunting is? I confess, neither did I.  So let me explain.  Whales frequently hunt in packs or pods. When they find a school of fish they will surround it, dive down under it and begin blowing a screen of tiny bubbles thus creating a surrounding wall much like a net, driving the school of fish closer together. Then they come up from under it with their mouths open until they reach the surface with mouths full of fish, krill and other things (lifeboats, Pinocchio). As they hit the surface there are 4-6 whale mouths and upper bodies protruding skyward out of the water for an instant.  The trick is to snap that photo at just the right moment, and why all of us on the boat have hundreds of shots of ……water, having just missed the correct timing. This pod hunting may go on for hours and hours. It takes a while to fill up a 40 ton animal.

Hump backs may reach 55 feet in length, the average being 45 feet.  Whales frequently travel in pods of several whales, often related to each other. (I don’t really know how we know that—maybe the biologist do DNA sampling, or when you get your whale driver’s license you have to submit to a DNA Test).  They may stay submerged for up to 30 minutes.  Frederick Sound humpbacks have been tracked to Maui, Hawaii where they make a 2800 mile migration and can do it in as little as 39 days.

The last page of the visitors guide has the obligatory warning to be cautious around the bears (grizzlies) which are numerous in this area  Don’t feed the bears….garbage addicted bears become nuisances…….. Don’t set up your camp where there are signs of bears eating, and imitating a bear’s sounds ranks as one of the most foolish things a human can do!

Bears are very nice. Bears and I have a love-hate (fear, actually) relationship going back to a trip to the Canadian Rockies some years ago when a lovely grizzly left a smoking 25 pound turd right in front of us on the wooden walkway “just so we knew he was there”. It apparently wasn’t enough that he was shaking trees and creating havoc in the skunk cabbage like a herd of wrestling wolverines.  I like to see bears often—most often from the short side of my long binoculars with me on the short side, or from my 400 millimeter telephoto lens. The bear warning page of the pamphlets on the ship warns strongly not to leave any garbage out that bears could get into.   Bad bears that have eaten garbage quickly become addicted (apparently garbage is to bears what heroin is to humans). Then they have to be whisked away, sometimes to the other side of the earth so that they don’t come back to that spot for a fix.  Often though they have been known to somehow make their way back home again, oh, by hopping a tramp steamer, hiding in the wheel wells of jet planes….who knows how they do it, but getting back to that garbage dump in Petersburg, Alaska is all-important.  So don’t feed the bears, or be the bear’s feed!

 

 

Do you fish, hunt, trap, travel, camp, go for nature walks? What else do you do outdoors? Drop me a line at THE VILLAGER, 8088 Main Street,  Garrettsville 44231. E-mail me at Skipstaxidermy@yahoo.com or give me a call at 330-562-9801. I’d like to hear from you.

I got an E-mail from someone named Hilda. She desperately wanted some help in evaluating and setting a price on her Dad’s old Ford truck.  He had passed away and they were in the process of settling the estate.  She said that she had absolutely no idea what the vehicle was worth, or even what kind of truck it was.  (Ford made “AA” trucks that were “real trucks” with much heavier frames, wheels, running gear etc., and they also made car based pick-up trucks, station wagons and sedan deliveries).  All she could really tell me was that it was crank start and that her Dad bought it to drive in parades. The crank start made me suspect that perhaps it was a Model “T” Ford truck though all Model “A”s also had the capability of crank starting but had electric starters.  They are not generally known as crank start vehicles.   Somehow the American Pickers TV show had become involved and she had no idea what the vehicle was worth. (Now, in my opinion the American Pickers are famous for paying way too much for antique cars which seems to be one of their frequent dilemmas highlighted on the show.  I remember the time when they paid about $8K for a Model “A” barn find that I valued at about $3K— as a parts, or total restoration project.  At the end of the show an expert noted that there were likely near a million Model “A”s still in existence and this was no great find.  The Pickers ultimately admitted that they paid way too much for it.)  Over the phone I was able to establish that the title listed the vehicle as 1929, and that Hilda said it reminded her of a pickup truck.  My best guess was that it might be a 1929 Ford Roadster Pickup, condition unestablished via phone conversation.

Untitled-1Because I write old car columns that appear in several magazines and am the current president of the Northern Ohio Model “A” Club, I frequently get calls and E-mails of this nature.  I am the contact person.  Whenever the calls are reasonably close by I try to personally visit the person and help out. My ulterior motives include, 1) maybe a good story lurks here, 2) I like to help out people, 3) the America Pickers connection piqued my interest, and 4) probably someone in the Club will be interested in the vehicle.  So, off I went to have a look.

As I got there and the garage door opened, what I saw confirmed that it was indeed a 1929 Roadster pickup, more properly known as an Open Cab Pickup Model “A” Ford.   These days all pickups are generally sought after as “desirable to restore” vehicles.  The open cab pickups were the lowest priced trucks at the time and even today are slightly less valuable than their closed cab counterparts. That being said, pickups generally sell well.  Two ladies—sisters– proceeded to push the vehicle out into the sunlight, as it, indeed, would not run.  They were careful to note that someone who looked at it yesterday said that it probably wouldn’t take much to get it to run and “these things are easy to get running—don’t let anybody tell you otherwise”.

I responded, “He didn’t buy it though, huh?”  I got no response from either lady.

It quickly became apparent that the two ladies were somewhat disgruntled from yesterday’s experience, but exactly why was not so apparent. My objective was to do what they had asked, for me to look the car over and give them an idea of what it might be worth.   So I proceeded to look over the car.  What I saw was a vehicle that was probably restored 25-30 years ago and had little or no maintenance done to it since. The tires were worn out, dry rotted and dangerous.  The car was restored to exactly as Henry had made it.  There were no upgrades such as electric fuses, lights, brake improvements—all important safety concerns.  The body was in very good shape with no dents and a paint job that was skillfully put on…..a long, long time ago.  Now there was fading, chipping and much paint crazing (associated with older lacquers).  The car had a general coat of dirt, dust and road grime associated with an old car. Though it had newer chrome bumpers (the originals were nickle plated and by now would have been very rusty and dull) the rest of the bright work was dull and rusted.  In fact the radiator shell was so dull that I honestly couldn’t tell whether it was just faded nickle plate or just faded silver spray paint.  As I opened the driver side door it promptly dropped a good inch indicating that the hinges were extremely well worn and in need of replacing.

To sum up, what I was presented with was a condition #4 car defined by the Old Cars Weekly price guide as: “a probably drivable vehicle needing minor work to be functional, also a deteriorated restoration or a poor amateur restoration.  All components need restoration.  Though it is useable as is, it needs a lot of help.” The fact that it did not run was offset by the good body that was in need of restoration and paint. The suggested value was $6,740.  What this means is that a buyer, restorer, would likely have to invest $7-10K to bring it up to acceptable modern safety and display standards.

I told them my assessment which produced an obvious look of dismay on their faces.  One lady responded, “I’ll let it rot for that.  My father paid $15,000 for it; the lawyer has it insured for $25,000, and it is an antique. He should know what it is worth.  It has to be worth at least $18,000 now and as soon as I get it running it will be worth $23,000.” I pointed out to no avail that most antique cars have lost value over the past 10-15 years and that value-wise, it was extremely important to maintain the car in good condition.

I suggested that they pick out an independent appraiser from, say Hemming’s Magazine, and get a more objective and formal evaluation.  The response was more disgruntlement about the lawyers ripping them off, etc., etc., etc…  About the American Pickers connection: one of  the sisters had apparently called the show and was told that Mike Wolf (one of the Pickers) was no longer interested in old cars but would pass on the information to others. It turned out that the two people who viewed the car yesterday had offered a similar amount or less and the sisters were very insulted.

Sensing their anger and disgruntlement with the situation I thanked them for their time and offered that if they wanted to sell it I would be glad to put it in our Club newsletter.  I further reiterated that they place a realistic price based upon an independent Old Car assessment.

It is too often that I find this story repeating itself these days.  I suspect that some of the reasons include the much televised and publicized famous car auctions and the ridiculous TV shows wherein much over valued cars quickly change hands between a small group of millionaires and car fanciers. On these shows sometimes drivers in Nevada are stopped on the streets and their cars bought out from under them. Now this is certainly not the real world that I live in.  One can only hope that cooler heads prevail as the sisters settle the estate.  I can’t help but wonder though how many Model “T”s and Model “A”s are now sitting in barns and garages rotting because we common people can’t seem to pay those high prices for them!

 

You may recall about two years ago that I got very frustrated with the Cleveland Museum of Natural History for not having anywhere near adequate facilities available for disabled people to park and be able to attend the events that we museum members were entitled to. The end result of that trip was missing the lecture, dropping out of the museum,  and  slowly winding my way back home through old neighborhoods and accidentally discovering a wonderful Jewish bakery and their chocolate Bombe’ cupcakes.  I still savor those cupcakes in my daydreams…. but I haven’t made it back there since!   Well, there is always tomorrow!

Masochist that I am, I was, as a guest of others, back at the Museum this past weekend to attend a lecture by Jack Horner—dinosaur hunter extraordinaire—and his colleagues expounding on head crests, frills, bumps,  horns and accoutrements of duckbilled dinosaurs, what they were made of, and postulating what they were used for.  OK, I realize that I just lost half my readers with that sentence.  Let me digress and get back to the real world.

My daughter and her husband, both paleontologists, asked me if I would like to go to a lecture at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. I am a “closet paleontologist”.  That is; I started out in that field in college in 1964; ten years and the Viet Nam War later, ended up in psychology. I’m still very interested in dinosaurs and primordial animals.  If I could go back and start over……………  Yeah,……….. so the lecture featured Jack Horner, one of the most famous Dinosaur authorities of our times.  This was in conjunction with “Dinosaur Days” at the museum wherein hundreds of children and their families attended and made wooden dinosaurs, got their faces painted, got pictures taken with the various dinosaurs, and generally got to run riot around the museum while subliminally taking in all the natural wonders.  This is all well and good, and exactly how I got my children interested in paleontology.  What was even better was that I didn’t have to drive into Cleveland and negotiate the Wade Oval traffic mess and try to find a non-existent disabled parking place.  The heavily over crowded, virtually impossible to navigate confluence of three famous museums, Severance Hall, the Veterans Hospital, a Music School,  and the Botanical Gardens are a weekend traffic nightmare.

My kids dropped me and my little electric scooter off at the door and I waited patiently while they were forced to park a quarter mile away at the Art Museums’ high rise parking deck to the tune of $11 ( I take the electric scooter to museums because of extended walking and standing which is very hard on my legs.)

Now, what is wrong with this picture?  Here we have the greatest concentration of cultural facilities Cleveland has to offer and there is almost no place to park your car.   Even Disneyland has remote parking facilities where they bus you to the gate on an every ten minute basis for God’s sake! (Oh, there’s an idea!)  Our museums beg you, implore you, to come down and visit them, but there are few places to park your car.  “We cater to the handicapped”, they say, but there is no place for us handicapped people to park our handicapped vehicle.   News flash….here’s another idea.  Maybe, instead of constantly adding on wings to the various museums they should get together and add on a central high rise parking facility on and under the green central to the museums so that people could actually attend the events? And maybe the extremely minimal parking available close to the museum’s doors could be reserved for….handicapped people?     Just an idea!!  Currently there is no way I could, by myself, attend any event.  Might I expect a companion to drop me off and go in search of a parking spot?  Particularly at night this is, shall we say, not the safest of areas.   It is a dangerous area at night.  I should expect a female companion to walk a quarter mile at night in an unsafe area to retrieve a car?  I don’t think so.

Now, at the lecture we by chance had the unexpected opportunity to sit and chat with a lovely lady named Janet Neary who, it turns out, happens to be a Museum Trustee.  As we talked it became clear that she was somewhat dismayed at the minimal attendance at the dinosaur lectures and we chatted about whether or not it might be wiser to separate in time and space the kid’s events from the adult lectures.  And perhaps they needed to institute much more effective advertising of the world famous dinosaur paleontologists.  Oh, the lectures were announced in the Plain Dealer but no mention was made of whom the lecturers would be.  Now this is akin to, say, advertising that there would be a lecture on religion, and forgetting to mention that incidentally it would be by the Pope.  Somebody definitely missed the target in advertising this event!!  Ms. Neary noted my electric scooter and we then discussed the parking fiasco and more particularly the lack of handicapped parking facilities.

I must say that the lectures were delightful.  They featured Mark Goodwin from UC Berkeley, a paleontologist and former student of Jack Horner.  He has been studying the aforementioned top knots and frills of duckbilled dinosaurs.   And of course the second lecture was by Jack Horner himself.  Now, I haven’t seen Jack in about 15-20 years in person.  Not that I know him personally—I do not– but I have listened to him talk on several occasions, have read his books,  been to his university workshop, and did take my son some 25 years ago to his egg mountain dinosaur camp in Montana.  Jack is an exciting speaker and one of the paleontologists that has profoundly changed our modern view on dinosaurs.

Jack has put on a few years, since I last saw him.  But he is still an exciting speaker who can command the audience’s attention and keep them riveted. Twenty-five years ago Jack postulated that birds are really living dinosaurs, dinosaurs were endothermic (warm blooded) and that dinosaurs are much more related to birds than reptiles. This shook the dinosaur world to its core.  But since then our understanding of dinosaurs has been markedly redefined largely due to his influence.  He is a very important cog in the wheel of dinosaur paleontology. I do believe that if academia had been actually aware that Jack Horner was in town, they would have filled up the auditorium.  Of course I don’t know where they would have parked!

What to do about continuing my museum membership?  I’m not happy about the situation. It is not their fault that I can’t walk much anymore. But the limited accessibility due to the lack of parking certainly puts a crimp in the numbers of people visiting the museums and my participation in the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

 

Do you fish, hunt, trap, camp, go for nature walks? What else do you do outdoors? Drop me a line at THE VILLAGER, P.O. Box 331 Garrettsville 44231. E-mail me at Skipstaxidermy@yahoo.com or give me a call at 330-562-9801. I’d like to hear from you.

 

How far back can you remember into your childhood?  I’m guessing that most people can’t remember much before 4 years old.  I’ve read that approximately 4 years of age is somewhat of a threshold of actively recalled memory experiences. This is not to say that there aren’t occasional flashback experiences—dreams and visual recalls.  Some of them are often strange and seemingly unrelated to general life themes.  For example, I remember a scene in our apartment, from which we moved ‘long about 1949, wherein I wanted some more milk and my mother showing me an almost empty milk bottle saying “the rest is for your Father’s coffee”.( Yes, I’m sure we could psychoanalyze that one!!) Certainly unpleasant repressed experiences are somehow retained on an unconscious level. Pleasant things are likewise often retained as an aura or overall good feeling.   I surely can’t remember much prior to four years of age but I do have a sort of flashback memory in the context of automobiles. How odd!  Does this mean that automobiles are somehow genetically programmed into me?  If you buy Darwin’s theory of evolution (being of a scientific background I certainly do!) then it is certainly possible and more than likely so.   Hey, generations of birds seem to automatically be programmed to ….fly south, then north again, visit the same bird feeders, and eat the same things, generation after generation, right?   Without a doubt old cars are a major part of the Schweitzer lineage dating back to the beginning the automobile era and my Grandfather Charles. He would have been about 12 years old at the turn of the century—1900—and witness to the beginning of the great age of automobiles.  Yes, I know, the old nature verses nurture debate comes into play. Why me and not my sister or brother who have little interest in automobiles? I buy the genetics!

It was a long time ago, say about 1960.  I would have been about 14 years old then and would have recently become very much interested in automobiles.  Back then age 14 was a magical time when you first really became aware that having a real car—as opposed to plastic model cars– was going to soon be a real possibility.  Some of us spent our lunch money buying the Reader’s Digest sized custom car magazines of the time and dreaming about what car we would soon have in just two more years. I also recall spending way too much time in study hall drawing hot rods and custom cars when I should have been studying school subjects.  About this time my family acquired a robin’s egg blue 1959 Mercury and for some reason it coincided with my unexpected introduction to Cream of Wheat cereal.  Talk about a weird association; forever afterward I associated Cream of Wheat with 1959 Mercurys.  

Perhaps it’s a quiet little secret of mine.  O.K., yes, I occasionally look at………sports cars.   Mia Culpa. I am guilty……of occasionally thinking about cars other than bona fide antiques.  Actually I have been quietly keeping an eye on Miatas for quite a while—they have been around for some 23 years now. 

Here’s one of those little known facts about a place in the Garrettsville community that maybe you didn’t know about because you can’t see it and you’re not an old car person. It’s not obvious; it’s in a barn behind a spacious older house.  The only tipoff you might notice is a brightly colored blue and white 1956 Studebaker Champion off to the side in the yard. Studebaker always made flashy, sometimes oddball color schemes, and you notice the car from the road.  If you pull down the driveway you will encounter a fairly nice, sedately gray-brown bathtub 1940s Packard in the drive and a couple other old cars and trucks. …… And cats!

“Are we there yet,” she said? It’s about 440 miles to Clayton, New York from our house. “I think we have gone five miles”, I said to Emma, my nine-year-old Granddaughter. “We’ve got a ways to go yet.” Nine years old is a great age to be; no worries about how you look to others, or for that matter, how you sound to others.  “I’m going fishing with my Dad and Grandparents. I have them all to myself, just me” (no sister to compete with). Then she resumed regaling us with the bottles of beer song.

Holy Mackerel, the South’s gonna rise again, in Hiram!  Well, maybe not THAT Robert E. Lee, but never-the-less, Mr. Bob Lee has a 1948 Chevrolet coupe sitting in front of the garage at the white house high on the hill on Rt. 82 coming into Hiram.  I saw the roofline—that old ‘40s car roofline—out of the corner of my eye one day as my wife and I were going to the college athletic center.  I made a mental note to knock on the door one day and find out about that car.  As luck would have it Bob called me about one of the old car articles.

It was the best of days; it was the worst of days. It was a day that we had been looking forward to since last September. This was the first time we could get out fishing this spring, and it was long overdue! Because of our cold spring the fish have been slow to begin to bite. And probably more due to the prolonged cold weather, I have been slow to get out and see if they are biting. But finally we seem to have broken winter’s back and have had a run of warm days. Because Lake Erie is indeed very slow to warm up—little is biting around Cleveland and east– we went to Mosquito Reservoir where, if you follow the fishing blogs, and the Plain Dealer accounts, the walleye and crappie are reported to be very active. And because it was a very warm, sunny weekend many, many other people evidently felt the same way. As bad luck would have it there was a two-day bass tournament going on as well. We didn’t know that! We thought it would be over on Saturday.

On September 9, 2012, a crotchety, absolutely ancient looking 1928 Studebaker Dictator made the first trip under its own power in at least 49 years to the Classic Car Show at Sunny Lake in Aurora.  Likely it’s been sleeping a good bit longer than that, because  sometime prior to 1963, it had been towed to a Studebaker Dealer in that disabled condition and traded for…  We will never know what!.  What meager information that could be garnered at the time indicated that the dealer had plans to restore it and place it in his showroom as an advertising ploy.   ….BUT….  In 1963 the Studebaker Corporation was in its death throes and its dealers were on the verge of bankruptcy day by day. It is likely that the old Studebaker was purchased by the dealer a few years earlier, say in 1959 or1960, when the then- newly-introduced compact Studebaker Lark buoyed spirits and provided a welcome bit of optimism to the Studebaker conglomerate by dramatically spiking their sales curve. By  1963 though, sales had taken a nosedive thanks to competition from Corvairs, Falcons and Valiants (new compacts offered by the Big Three car makers).  There was now no money for such luxuries as old car restorations.  So in those last days before the Studebaker empire came crashing down this old Dictator got towed to the back of the lot along with the other junkers to be sold for scrap.  Enter a then 21-year-old John Biggs who, at that time, could probably be accurately described as something of a dreamer, someone who saw value in things that mainstream society had used up and moved on from. This is a disease that some of us inveterate old car buffs seem to be afflicted with from early on in life. 

The St. Lawrence River is about an 8-hour drive from Mantua, Ohio.  It is the boundary between the U.S. and Canada from New York through Maine. The first 40 miles of the St. Lawrence from Lake Ontario eastward are also known as the Thousand Islands. This area has a mystique and aura about it, which is very much unlike any other place that I’ve fished before. It is reminiscent of the typically-pictured Canadian waterscapes with much rocky outcropping, craggy, rocky islands, rocks and trees, in-water rock piles, and whalebacks (reefs that protrude above water).  Unlike typical Canadian waterscapes though, you are not out in the wilderness a hundred miles from nowhere.  There are myriads of summerhouses scattered among the islands and shorelines.  More than some of them are million dollar summer mansions.  Many of these summer cottages are easily $250-500,000 abodes. Many are quaint, turn of the last century houses in excellent repair. Many are quite modern. This is not the typical Canadian Hinterlands.