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Skip Schweitzer

Skip Schweitzer
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.

We are some six weeks into this topic of 65 and Single Again.   I have gotten a great deal of feedback about the articles via e-mail, over the phone, and more often than not, in person. A great many people seem to identify with this predicament of life. The column mirrors their struggle and they are searching for solutions. As well, it has generated a good bit of thought on my part, re-thinking certain things, postulating new, and contemplating where to go next. 

I want to very briefly touch on the dating dot coms issue that initially got me started writing this column.  You will recall that I got very aggravated with them, experienced their shortcomings, and realized the potential for abuse. Now nine months into the Dot Com Dating scenario, and 2-4 months after I initially wrote the series, my view has not changed.  Even though one Dot Com contract has run out, two are still sending me daily potential contacts. One of those two I did not agree to sign up for or be charged for. But reviewing my credit card statements, there it is! These dating dot coms tout  “one key charging”, which in reality means if you accidentally hit one particular key you are automatically charged and re-enlisted.  What is that key? I don’t know. We had to go through lots of windows and ambiguous fine print to reach cancel!  At least 2-4 others are still sending me daily notifications that automatically end up in my spam file.  I am now even less prone than ever to make an overture to any of these potential people because I know that the response rate is so minimal that it exacerbates my depression and reinforces my sense of futility. I admit that I do occasionally look at them and on occasion have sent a response to one that seems particularly appropriate.   But it never fails that most that I would potentially like to address live far from me, or in a suburb much above my working class Mantua.  Regardless, they never respond, and now I don’t much try anymore.  I stick to my original conclusions.

One thing that has surprised me is the consistent feedback that I apparently haven’t lost my sense of humor; that my articles often make people laugh. This has been pointed out to me time and again so I accept that this is true.  In actuality this has been a very humorless period of my life, at least from this side of my eyeballs.  But I do consciously try to inject a sense of humor into my writing, introduce a different way of looking at a situation that brings out an alternative to a sometimes bleak state of affairs. Who wants to read about bleakness? I just put down an award winning book called We Are Not Ourselves that started out bleak, was bleak throughout, and ended up more bleak and depressing.  I think, now why in the world would anybody write something like that?  Even more amazing, why would critics rave over this?  I don’t know. The older I get, the more I don’t seem to know!!  Apparently, despite my inner self, something of a humorous viewpoint is still coming through.  Several people have told me that they laughed all the way through various articles. I go back and reread them and say, OK I can see that.  I didn’t realize it when I wrote it but I can see it now. I am very glad to know that humor is still there, consciously or not.  It is peculiar how depression brings out humor in a [certain] few of us.  I’m thinking of people like Robin Williams, Jerry Seinfeld, Johnathan Winters—All have commented on experiencing serious depression, through it they seem to be able to verbalize a humorous side to most anything.  Not that I am comparing myself to them by any means. I am not that quick on my feet, I am not that talented, and I am no comedian. Mine is a reactive depression to the loss of a loved one. Presumably and hopefully this is not a permanent situation, that there is a cessation down the road. Still it is astounding to me that a sense of humor is still there and coming out.

One woman has commented repeatedly that my articles are frequent fodder for discussion at their church groups and dinners. Admittedly many of their group find themselves in my same situation. My response is to say that it helps somewhat to know that I am not alone. But really, I am alone!  I also know that I have no readily formed therapeutic answers as to the way out of this. Yes, me, the former licensed Professional Clinical Therapist—the shoe is on the other foot now and I don’t have answers.  Isn’t that a game changer!  One of the reasons that I started these articles is/was an attempt to write my way out of this funk and hopefully be able to bring others with me.  The woman who e-mailed me also suggested that we get together as a group and meet somewhere. This has definite possibilities and I am open to that.

For me, keeping extremely busy is my main way of avoiding overwhelming, depressing thoughts and endlessly reminiscing about what was, but can never be again.  And I have attempted to do this whenever possible.  The results though, leave me a profoundly tired lump of clay by 8-9 PM.  This doesn’t bode well in the classes I sign up for in the evenings.  “Skip. Are you all right? You seem out of it”, they say.  “No, I am just tired. I am basically a morning person,” I say. This is also a type of manic flight if taken to extreme.  And of course it doesn’t always work. Our psychological defenses are famous for occasionally not working, I think it is called the human condition.   The reminiscing thoughts invade despite my best efforts.  Is this good/ Is this bad? I don’t know.  It just is. What is IS? Thank you Bill Clinton. Let’s not be cryptic.  Tell me what is IS?   “Close but no cigar!” Obviously from history we see that he didn’t know either.

One woman that I actually did meet through one of the Dating Dot Coms read my articles and  e-mailed that she was sure that she was the person that stood me up at the Cracker Barrel.  She apologized profusely.  I assured her that this was indeed not the case—that she did not stand me up.  In fact I inadvertently left her hanging.  Actually she was one person that I would like to have seen again.  At our coffee date it came out that she was a volunteer at the hospital where my wife spent many of her last days—this spooked me greatly, caused a massive rush of emotions and my automatic flight defenses kicked in.  As a result I had to distance myself from that experience and her for a bit.  At any rate, I lost contact with her and was very glad to make contact again and have the opportunity to resume trying to build a relationship. Sometimes there is obvious chemistry. I did like her and saw possibilities but the human condition—my automatic defenses– mucked things up a bit.

In retrospect, I must say that this has been the hardest, most difficult time of my life—the past nine months since my wife passed away.  Do things get better? Do they ever get better?  I keep asking this question.  What I can say now from my experiences so far is that I don’t seem to be walking around in a fog quite as much these past couple months, and my emotions are not quite as labile as the first four months. But make no mistake, it still doesn’t take much to make me turn away and attempt to control/ hide a rush of emotions. My main coping mechanism is a sort of manic flight—staying extremely busy and working until I drop. 

Loneliness is a big factor for me. Having someone else in the house is so comforting, refreshing and vital.  Who proofreads your articles and says, “Don’t say that; That is offensive”   Who scratches your back?  Who says, “Go brush your teeth, you’ve been eating garlic again; Your breath is gonna knock a buzzard off a ……..manure wagon!”  Who is gonna touch you?  I can count the number of times I’ve been touched this past nine months…..on one hand. I’m not outwardly a touchy feely person except with a very significant other.  Then, it seems crucial, and is now missing.   

What now is the meaning of life for me? Life has changed.  It has not yet come clear to me.  Once I knew, but now I don’t anymore.  The quest to alleviate this loneliness is center stage. But the ever present thought, “What would my wife think” interjects quickly and always. When is that alleviated? Is it ever?  My daughter intimates that she is now a significant part of the meaning of life for me. She doesn’t realize it but she always has been, just more central these days. I deep down think that my wife would say, “Your work is not done; get back to doing what you do best—work with people and write.”

 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  

Author’s note: The names of the various dot coms have been changed

The Dating Dot Com phenomenon came on the scene in the 1990s and since then has developed exponentially into a massive industry.  You can’t watch evening TV or pick up a popular magazine without encountering advertisements touting this or that dot com which all but guarantee that they will find the right person for you.  Many of us, from ages 20 to 76, have ventured forth and tried this new modality. After all, what did we have to lose but loneliness?

Upon using this new modality several problems have come to the surface that are perhaps unavoidable with a new, unregulated service.  We have explored many of the problems and pitfalls of this modality, of which there are many.  To recap, here is what you need to keep a wary eye on: 

There is a definite learning curve to using these new dot coms.  You are frequently reminded and instructed how to better your chances for a response by keying on certain things that people say in their descriptions about themselves. But I am not convinced that this does any good.  A “free” trial week or weekend can result in your profile being posted indefinitely but you have no way to respond to gestures at you because you haven’t paid for service beyond that free time. Consequently the people responding to you can get no response back.  It seems all too easy for the Dot Coms to use you to enhance their statistics.  They are poorly responsive to your complaints and requests, and, indeed, seem to ignore them, i.e., honoring the mileage area you wish to stay within.  When you contract with one, multiple others seem to jump on the bandwagon and inundate you. They tempt you with unverifiable numbers of contacts and then demand fees if you want to see those contacts. There seems to be a fair amount of deception practiced by the industry and the clientele alike—bogus flirts and contacts by scantily clad young beauties one third your age, and deceptive pictures posted by clientele which only become obvious when you meet in person.  But the most cited complaint seems to be the very low response rate that the vast majority of users get.  While the advertising seems to tout a 50-68% response rate the vast majority of users seem to experience a 1 to 5% response rate.  It would be interesting to compare responses for the 20-30 age group to the over 50 group.

There are many instances of obvious scams, particularly if you read comments in the social media.  One lady I interviewed pointed out two separate men developing a relationship with her on Christian Dangler. Then they are mysteriously called out of the country, become stranded and then ask — beg — for money or access to her bank account so that they can get back to the U.S.A.  Is this not exactly what shows up daily in our spam accounts?  Other more disturbing instances include censorship by the Dot Coms of comments critical of them.  The social media warns to watch your credit card after you cancel your service.  Many complain of getting re-upped anyway.  Again, read about the lawsuits leveled at the Dating Dot Coms on Google.

So are we giving these Dating Dot Coms failing marks and recommending that you stay away? No, I am not.  Over the course of 8 months I have met or made contact with maybe 6-8 people who are, for the most part, upstanding good people.  Some have turned out to have significant diseases and physical disabilities that re-open old wounds of mine.  I cannot go down that path again.  Some have had very different dating objectives in mind than my own.  Some just want a pen-pal—someone to correspond with.  Some have been very needy and quickly drain my energy.  Some have been rejecting of me.  Is this any different, though, than what goes on in the non- computer world?  It is not.  Will I keep contact with a couple of these people? Yes, I probably will, but because I just like them, not because I expect to develop a close, intimate relationship with them.    

I say to myself, “Perhaps we have to embrace the future.”  This is a new way of meeting prospective people that seems to fit better with the younger generation who can more easily assimilate computers and cell phones and smart phones.  I think that they have much better response rates.  I’m not sure to what extent we older generation people can embrace this new modality but certainly many of us have taken the risk to try it whether we admit to it or not.  It remains to be seen just how successful it will be for us.  As I said earlier in the series, where else can you get a list of people complete with pictures and personal info. This has the potential to be a wonderful way to preview people and pick and choose who you want to meet.  You would have to admit that this is true. But potential and actualization are two very different concepts.  And the initial TV advertisement touting that you want to find the right partner, that special someone, someone to marry—that is not false advertising. Maybe all of us aren’t looking for someone to marry, but all of us are looking for that special someone—however you define “special”

As with any new modality it is important to examine things carefully before jumping in. Sure Dating Dot Coms have been around for over 20 years. But many of us over 50 were not in the market until relatively recently. Many of us are old school.  We learned how to meet people before the advent of the internet.  Then in the 1980s we were confronted with the new revolution—home computers and the internet.  “How do you turn this thing on? How do you switch channels?  What else can you do with it?”   Of course it has become a whole new modality that many of us embraced, and some of us have never learned to embrace.

This seems to be a time of massive growth of the Dating Dot Com industry and there is very little regulation.  The dust has not yet begun to settle. Couple that with a strong human need, a desire for intimate contact with significant other people and caution is the word.  

What have I gained in my $240, eight month venture into the world of computer dating?  At this point I have made one, possibly two, ongoing friendships that conceivably could be called significant, but not intimate. With one there are significant health issues that scare me greatly and keep me at a distance.  The other relationship is much too new to assess. If nothing else the whole experience of writing to close to 400 people has served to clarify my view of myself and what I could offer someone else. But there must be an easier way.

To the negative, my wariness of the motivations of others has increased.  Certainly my opinion of the Dating Dot Coms is at a lower level than when I began this venture.  Will I continue with Dating Dot Coms?  NO! When I compare the energy it took to direct my efforts to close to 400 people and the great frustration I experience at the absolutely meager payoff, I feel it has been all for naught.

Whether you are 20 years old or 67 years old, let the buyer beware has never been more appropriate both in contracting with a Dating Dot Com or the meeting of a prospective date.  No matter how sophisticated these computer matches purport to be, nothing can take the place of face to face, sitting down and meeting a person, watching body language, hearing the word usage, and coming away with an impression of a person. That is the old psychologist in me.

 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  

Author’s note: The names of the various dot coms have been changed


“Hey, do you want to go on a bus trip with us to Cambridge to see the Dickens Victorian Village? It’s a guided tour.  You will meet lots of new people!”  So said Michelle, my editor. “And besides, you will probably get a story out of it for the 65 and Single Again column.”  What the hey, I thought.  I’ve not done anything like this since………I can’t remember when.  Probably in college I took a Greyhound bus back to Athens from Cleveland. That was the last time I was on a modern over-the-road type bus, and that was close to 50 years ago.

Charles Dickens, who was he, you ask.  Oh, so you’ve been spending too much time out in the barn milking cows eh? Or maybe playing too much with the X-Box computer games.   Does Bob Cratchett or Tiny Tim ring a bell…….oh yeah,  THAT Dickens who wrote “A Christmas Carol” back in 18 and 50 something.  Dickens created some of the world’s most well-known fictional characters and is generally regarded as the greatest Victorian Writer.  We had to read his works back in high school. Probably you did too.  Now you remember.  Sure I’ll go. Besides, there are bound to be some interesting people to meet on the bus.

The trip schedule was as follows:

Depart Garrettsville 8 AM

1st stop – McDonald’s in Cambridge to pick up the guide 

for the day—also coffee break

2nd stop – Dickens museum approx. 10 AM

3rd stop – shop on Main Street 

4th – eat lunch at restaurant 12:30 PM

5th – visit bulk food store and shop

6th – visit Episcopal Church

7th – shop a bit/nap in bus

8th – light show on the courthouse

Drive home, estimated return, 9 PM

So we set off on the bus at 8 AM from Sky Lanes in Garrettsville and headed for Cambridge which is about 2 hours away, including a rest stop.  There were about 34 of us on the tour.  I only knew about 3 people—the staff from the newspaper.  The rest were new to me.  As happens in unfamiliar situations you study the dynamics of the group on the bus, the people around you, and the persistent person behind you who feels the need to fill you in on every nuance and detail of the various people on the bus.  You note, perhaps, some interesting individuals and make a mental note to try and strike up a conversation with these certain folks. The back of the bus was the more vocal area; People seemed to be having a good time, laughing and such.  Also in the back of the bus is a bathroom.  It consists of a wooden bench with a hole in it and you could see the road going by through the hole……………..NO, NO, NO! I’m confusing it with a train ride from the 1920s.  Actually it was a very nice setup much like an airliner bathroom. I didn’t realize busses these days had such amenities and that certainly goes a long way toward alleviating certain fears about being trapped in a confined space……well, for some of us anyway.

We picked up our guide at the McDonald’s just at the edge of town. She was dressed in 1850s period clothing and served as the director for the affairs of the day. She explained how the whole Dickensonian concept came about for Cambridge and what they have done to enlarge it.  Cambridge is a quaint 1850s town with distinctly English architecture. It is about the size of Ravenna. Most of the buildings are well- preserved, including a marvelous 1850s courthouse.  I have noted many other similar courthouses in central and southern Ohio, all built in that era. Very fortunately they have survived modernization or being torn down like so many up north.  They are real jewels. 

Our tour guide explained that at the turn of the new century (2000) a group of townspeople and businessmen, recognizing the English heritage of Cambridge, got together, planned and implemented a Dickens Christmas theme that encompassed the whole downtown.  This, they surmised, would bring in business.  They decked out the downtown in Edwardian style with over 180 Dickensonian life-size manikins in various scenes lining the sidewalks and in shop windows.  These scenes depict real life situations of the time, such as a photographer taking a picture, groups caroling, people standing on a corner, and sitting on a bench. These are all lifelike manikins with fairly realistic faces.   But there are also various real people dressed in the period clothing walking about.  More than once I had the BeJesus scared out of me by a manikin that began talking to me and moved like a human. I wondered if Father Christmas was responsible for any heart attacks or strokes. 

As you can see by the schedule, there was plenty of time built in for shopping—this I’m sure to encourage the anticipated consequence of people visiting this Dickensian Town.  The pinnacle of the whole adventure was a simply wonderful, almost indescribable light show on the Courthouse, all choreographed to classical Christmas music.  The whole effect is perhaps best described as like watching a rapid fire Fourth of July Fireworks display. It was worth the trip to see this.

So, in between the various Dickens activities we shopped and ate.  There are a number of pubs along the shopping routes up and down the city block.  I don’t know why I mention that but I think that at least a few took advantage of it. Certainly the effects seemed more notable on the way back to Garrettsville, and not necessarily in a bad way. More on that in a bit.

We visited an Episcopal Church that was styled like, and likely built in, the 1850s.  We sat in the pews and listened to a short, staunch, pokerfaced elderly woman with a distinct English accent stand in the pulpit and dryly relate the history of the church. I wondered if she too was an actor trying to look Dickensonian or if it indeed was just her everyday manner of dress. I think the latter.  She then asked if anyone in the group might come up and play the massive pipe organ.  No one could or would. The thought crossed my mind to volunteer to go up and play chopsticks but I thought better of it.  Then she urged the group to sing a few Christmas Carols.  This was all well and good, mind you, but some of the group seemed to not feel particularly Christmassy, or more likely, not confident in their a Capella singing abilities.  Others were feeling…….something else, possibly courtesy of the pubs! We attempted “Silent Night”.  I say attempted because it would not be fair to say that we accomplished “Silent Night” in anything resembling harmony! Possibly it was not even recognizable. Then she said, “Let’s try Joy to the World.”  Whereupon I broke out laughing – thinking immediately of the Three Dog Night rendition– “Joy to the World, –all the boys and girls, joy to the fishes…” and how completely out of time and place that would be. Apparently that thought instantly escaped my mind and came out my mouth because I looked up and everyone was looking back at me.  A little more verbosity than I had anticipated I guess.  Though the moment didn’t translate well I doubt if the old English lady had any idea who Three Dog Night was.  All in all, the church people were nice; they fed us cookies and scones.  Per chance do you know what scones are?  Well, I know a little about English scones.  My wife’s grandparents were very English, having been born in England back in the late 1800s.  They had lots of English traditions, and they cooked typical English food.  Some of it was very good, some was…….not.   Grandma Nellie regularly used to make scones and bring them over often.  How to describe them?  The words that come to mind are white hockey pucks with jelly on them.  The ones that they served at the church though looked a lot better than those in my memory. They were soft and folded and you could make little jelly sandwiches with them. With Nellie’s you scored goals. I choked them down though to be nice and keep the peace. But I digress.

After the fabulous light show we began the two hour trip back home. Now if I remember back to high school days and trips back home from, say, a football game, things were, shall we say, more relaxed.  People talked a little more, sang a little more, and were generally more uninhibited. For example, it always took me that long to work up the courage to talk to a particular girl. Isn’t it funny that 50-60 years separates the experiences but the same thing happens with us 50 plus people? Even though we couldn’t seem to muster up the wherewithal to sing some Christmas Carols in the church, the group in the back of the bus at some point started belting out some Christmas songs. Gradually, song choices degenerated a bit as they launched into “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.” Everybody seemed to know the words perfectly though.  Then they belted out “Joy to the World –All the boys and girls, joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea…”  Of course the finale was that greatest of all German Christmas Carols, “I wish I was an Oscar Meyer Weiner , –That is what I really want to be, Cause if I was an Oscar Meyer Weiner, Everyone would take a bite of me”.  

 It was a grand trip.  I will do it again but I’m sitting in the back next time and going shopping with that group.

In this series we have been exploring the world of Dot Com dating services both from a personal experience point of view and that which is widely reported on multiple venues including social media, printed media, magazines and newspapers.  Many problematic issues have come to the surface, including accusations of false advertising, misleading advertisements and practices, a great lack of response to member’s overtures and responses, a lack of response by the dot coms to subscriber complaints. Further issues are alleged including apparent censorship, deception by the organizations, and deception by the users/members.  Is there any watch dog agency overseeing Dating Dot Coms?  None that I am aware of!  The whole dating dot com seems particularly unregulated.  Google Dating Dot Com lawsuits and see what comes up on the screen.  Prepare to read for hours.

Alleged False Advertising/Deception by the Dot Com

How many times has it happened that I am notified that an attractive lady with a moniker such as NANNAN69 has just favorited me and would like to talk with me.  The posted time is 7:15 PM.  At 7:16 PM I respond and immediately a screen flashes that, “NANNAN69 is no longer available but here are 8 more people just like NANNAN69.  Give them a response!”  Now, tell me how, in 60 seconds, NANNAN got swept off her feet, married off and managed to get the Dot Com to take her out of contention when the rest of us can’t seem to even get the Dot Com to respond to us.  I’d really like the answer to that. Isn’t this bait and switch?

Oh, wait a minute.  Here is a new message on my computer from loveemandleavem Dotcom, of whom I have never heard and certainly not contracted with.  They’re notifying me that I have 69 new profile views plus 4 flirts and 6 new messages. “Click here to read the messages.” I do so.  Immediately a screen pops up that has a silhouette on it but no explanation or directions to my messages.  Scrolling down the screen I see a box with flirts, winks, messages.  I click on messages and a screen pops up that says, “To read your messages you must upgrade now.  For just $14.95/month for 6 months………..  Isn’t this deceptive advertising?

Oh, wait, again, another new message this time from marrymoneymindedpeoplemeet Dot com has appeared telling me that I have 52 new profile views plus 5 new flirts and 8 new messages.  If I upgrade now I can read and reply to my messages, see the 4 people who have flirted with me, see the members who have “fave’d” me , view their videos, chat with hundreds of members on line, and always find out if we are an astrological match. It is only $6.49/mo. for 6 months.  One click upgrade and, oh yes, this offer expires in 6 minute and 34 seconds. Isn’t this a deceptive come-on?

Oh wait, Lighter Dot com is notifying me that on 9/20/14 at 10:57 a lady named IONOSPHERE from Medina saw me on her daily matches and says she is interested.  Medina is 78 miles away from me.  What happened to my 25 mile limit?  The lady looks and sounds interesting.  What to do?  Isn’t this trying to sell me something that I clearly asked not to see?

Oh wait, here is a message from AAAOLdoubles, of whom I have never heard and certainly not contracted with. It says, “Babe I guess you’re not getting any of my e-mails huh?  I’ve been trying to e-mail u (sic) so many times but this dammed (sic) laptop……” Isn’t this…..a scam?

From what can be gathered Lighter Dot Com likely also owns many other dating services with many other names, but they use your same profile and word content for all of them and do transfer them around to their other Dot coms.  On some of them they try to charge you to look at “someone responding to you!”  Also there are other apparently not related firms that either steal your profile or possibly it is sold to them and they add it to their repertoire.  You get daily e-mails from them under such names as Yourtimesover Dot Com, Senior Moments what was I saying?, Chemistryset Dot Com, Senior Good Lord Times, Italiandressingpeople meet, Petapeople meet and many other names. Actually, some of these are apparently free.   The response rate is reported to be better with some of these.  How much better, though, remains ambiguous. I will admit, though, that my response rate –people responding to my overtures– is significantly higher—in the 10% range—on Yourtimesover Dot Com.  This is likely due to the narrow focus on the age group over 55.

False advertising by the member

Let’s face it, we all want to put our best side forward.  Listing enticing information to enhance the probability of responses is basic salesmanship, but where does enhancement end and downright deception begin.  Yes, you clean and polish the car when trying sell it, and list all the positives.  But do you turn back the speedometer? Do you pour heavy weight oil in it to mask the leaking and burning? Do you forget to mention that the car has been in a significant accident?   While it is difficult to initially ascertain whether the written information listed on a person’s profile is accurate one deceptive practice seems to come clear upon meeting. That would be submitting pictures of yourself that were taken 5 to 30 years earlier, thus showing you as much younger than you actually are. Who would actually do that, you say?  I have encountered it.  I drove 80 miles one way to find exactly this.  Sometimes the posted picture is noted to have been taken in, say 2012, or last year or two years ago. This is, I suppose, not so much of an issue.   Often though, when you actually go to meet the person you have a difficult time recognizing them from their posted picture because they are significantly older in person. Putting aside the traditional issue that we often don’t look quite like our photos there is a seemingly significant age variance. A couple years difference is probably not such a big deal, but a posted picture taken 25 years ago IS.  That is major deception.  What do you do when you actually meet a person you have conversed with on e-mail and, upon meeting, find out that that there are marked incongruencies?  They are markedly older –i.e., the stated age is 59 but the person obviously is/looks middle 70s. Or that they have significant problems not mentioned or obvious in the photos. If nothing else this deception starts the relationship off on a wrong foot, and you immediately begin to wonder what else isn’t true.


How could censorship go on in this country in this day and age?  “Why, that only goes on in China and Russia and……”  If you follow the commentary on the social media you will find many complaints about comments being censored, words being changed particularly in regards to a member being critical of the dot com.

In my experience this has happened at least twice.  Initially I thought it was a computer glitch but not the second time.  In conversing with a lady on the dot com website about the shortcomings of the site and suggesting that we switch to our e-mail addresses I was mysteriously and immediately cut off from communicating and asked to re-register my name and password.  I could then start over with my communication.  This was not a random glitch.

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  

Author’s note: The names of the various dot coms have been changed

Why do people get hooked up with on-line dating services like EEK-Grominy and Lighter Dot Com. Well, if you believe all the hype shown you in the 90 second TV commercials it is because you want to find the right partner, that special someone, someone to marry.  Of course it is also possible that maybe you just want to meet for a short term relationship, and if you believe the comments on many of the social media sites it sounds as if some just prefer a very short relationship–one night. Of course that probably wouldn’t make good TV ad copy during the family viewing hours, would it –Endless one-night stands for $14.95 per month for 6 months?   Suffice it to say though that people of all ages desire affiliation with the opposite sex. This is basic human nature programmed into us genetically.  As we get older the prospective dating  pool gets progressively smaller and the opportunities to meet shrink proportionately. So, here comes a service with lists of people complete with pictures and personal info. Initially you think, “What a seemingly wonderful way to preview people and pick the ones you want to meet. Sign me up for a date dot com.”

This type of service seemed to come on the scene in the mid-1990s and has blossomed a hundred fold over the past 20 years. It corresponds with a similar rise in the social media and commentary the likes of which we have not seen before the rise of computers and now smart phones.  There are now, in 2014, countless numbers of dating services. I could fill the rest of the page with names of these dot coms. A couple are free. Some of them are “apparently” free, that is, until you want to see your contacts. The vast majority though require payment up front and a sign up minimum duration of 3 months to 1 year. Most of the for-pay services will automatically re-up you, charging your credit card unless you give them advanced notice that you want to be cancelled immediately. Even then the social media commentary indicates that you need to be watchful of your credit card charges because, time and again, these dot coms apparently re-enlist you whether you want it or not.

Major complaint issues:

Low response rate –  One of the biggest complaints about the dating dot coms is the low response rate—most often quoted as 1% to 3% by consumers.   The Lighter Dot Com official site ambiguously touts rates of 63.5% to over 75% but if you closely read their information you can’t seem to pin it down.  After you quickly discount the positive slant written at the hands of the Lighter Dot Com advertising people you will find masses of dissatisfied customers complaining about the low response rate. To be fair I note that there are also some positive commentaries listed on the various social media sites. Many of these seem to be written by people in their 20s and generally relate to dating around and the large variety of people available to date.  Indeed several people do tout the one–night date experience but here is a representative sampling of complaints by actual customers on the social media sites:

–On Lighter Dot Com there seems to be more attractive women but it seems much harder to  reach them.  I’ve sent out over 100 messages and have gotten 3 replies.

–The men to women ratio must be at least 25 to 1.  My response rate is less than 1%.

In my experience the response rate to my overtures has been in the 1% to 3% range. Let us look at the statistics that Lighter Dot Com presents on me.  By the way there is no means of verifying any of their presented statistics.  They say that my profile has been viewed 760 times from mid-February through mid-September.   I have gotten 6 responses (to my well over 300 overtures—they apparently don’t present or keep track of my overtures). They also note that apparently there have been 17 overtures (winks, flirts, favorites, e-mails) directed at me. The responses/overtures are lumped together as 23 connections, which is an erroneous term because it implies two parties coming together. This was often not the case.  This also introduced a new issue– attention I am not seeking/do not want to respond to. The reasons include:  1) great distances from me. 2) Large age gap, 3) bizarreness in their descriptions or responses directed at me, 4) obvious health issues.

I went through all 23 “connections” and broke them down as follows:  6 were overtures indeed initiated by me, and 17 were overtures directed at me. Of the 17 directed at me, four had no picture, three had little or no information stated on their profiles, five were from much greater distances than I want go—Kalamazoo, Phoenix, China, two were far older than I, two had obvious major health issues, and one supplied seemingly bizarre info that was an absolute turn-off to me.  I answered the four no-picture overtures with a simple “Picture please”. I did not respond to the people with little or no info on their profiles or info that was a complete turn-off to me—I’m leery of being scammed.  I continue to correspond with the two major health issues people. I sometimes responded to the great distance people noting that the distance was a major factor, and I’m sorry to say that I did not respond to the age issue people because I just don’t have an acceptable answer. I do feel horrible about that. These people are, like me, lonely too.

There are a number of articles and publications available that attempt to address the low response rate. One representative article, obviously penned by a Date Dot Com employee summed it up as: 1) no established etiquette for on line communication. 2) on-line daters commonly use a shotgun approach, 3) we are more critical on-line, 4) are you being realistic?, 5) sometimes chemistry is just off, 6) not all our members are paid subscribers.

The last two issues seem to hold the most water. Sometimes the “chemistry is just off” is very plausible but, I think somewhat difficult to ascertain without face to face encounters. Words and pictures are not nearly enough to go on.  The last issue–Not all of our members are paid subscribers—is perhaps the most significant issue and cited over and over again in the social media.

Paid subscribers and “free” often short, 3 day to 1 week trial subscriptions, opens up a big can of worms and allows you to see how statistics can get jacked up and misrepresented. Most of the Dating Dot Coms constantly advertise and approach you with come-on specials where you can, free for a weekend or a week, join their Dot Com and try it out.  You fill out all the info, supply the pix and are immediately entered into the array of subscribers–people available.  Actually they have just hooked you and your profile.  But when you begin to make overtures to others you quickly find out that you have to pay to find out who has responded to you. When you don’t pay, your profile is not taken down but remains in the mix indefinitely.  As a result people keep responding to you and the dot com keeps e-mailing you telling you that you have 10 winks, 4 favorites, 2 messages and such and the contacts and messages increase infinitely as time goes by.  This goes on indefinitely with them hoping you will bite.

Some of the Dating Dot coms, though not the majority, post a time indicating how recently people have been responsive.  If there is indication that a person has not responded for three weeks or more, chances are that that person is no longer active or able to respond because they didn’t pay up yet, quit, or died, but are still being advertised as available. Obviously there are a significant number of people posted that cannot respond to you.  Some lawsuits allege 90%.  This is very frustrating.  This skews the statistics. It adds to the DOT Coms “contact” rate but ultimately contributes to your low response rate.  A representative comment on the social media says:  “I joined Lighter Dot Com and after a couple of months discontinued my membership.  A year later my profile was still on there.  Lighter Dot Com is using old and inactive profiles to expand their base.”

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  

Author’s note: The names of the various dot coms have been changed


Mantua – What? Where is this place? You’re kidding?   We have something like this locally?  I thought that carvings like this were made somewhere high in the Alps by a group of little, stooped-over, bearded men sitting by a roaring fire as they whittled away on pieces of wood.  Big marble statues are done in Italy by guys in togas with leafy bands on their heads, right? They have wood mallets and chisels in hand as they hack away at 6 ft. blocks of stone.  And how did the Indians carve those 12 foot totem poles?  With flint knives and rocks?  Seriously, we have something like that right here in our community?  Who knew?

If you are like me, indeed you didn’t know much about this whole woodcarving community that exists across this country, probably across the world.  Oh yes, you are familiar with the carvings, or actually carved-like representations of hand carvings, at Walmart, always with a Made In China sticker on the bottom, They sell for $3 to $10, usually in the home furnishings department.  Kitsch art,  I believe that stuff is called, is usually popped out of a mold in Beijing.  The first one probably cost a good buck but the next 6,000 reproductions, well, if we offer them at 49 cents wholesale, the store can charge………who cares. We just made $3,000 and our costs are ridiculously low.

But the real thing—the actual wood carving– you only see these in museums and art galleries.  They’re delicate, intricate, and pricey.   They take countless hours, hundreds, maybe thousands, to produce.   Is produce really the word?  A better word is create.   Who has the patience to do this kind of work?   Admittedly, it is a niche industry, a sub-layer of our society.  There are, and always have been groupings of artists and artisans present in every culture dating back to the Neanderthal cave men.   How do we know? We find artwork painted on the walls of caves, and carved figurines. Museums are filled with art and carvings representing the human condition throughout the ages.  Moving forward to modern times, you encounter duck decoy carvers and fish carvers at most Sportsman’s shows. If you dig into this phenomenon you will find that there is a large subculture of carvers who move within their own arena. Their subject is not just wildlife but any and everything else connoted in the human condition.

If you travel east down Frost Road between SR 43 and Diagonal Road you will notice a peculiar mix of mostly newer houses and an occasional old farm house.  As you go east towards Mantua, the older houses and farmsteads become more prevalent, the newer housing much less prominent. At just about the break between Streetsboro and Mantua, is a definitely old homestead farm on the north side of the road.  There is a sign out front. It used to say Hardwood lumber for sale.  I noticed it several years ago because I work with rough-cut hardwoods making backboards and furniture and such.  Somewhere along the line that sign changed and it now says Stadtlander’s Woodcarved Art Gallery.  If you drive up the driveway you note a layout typical of an American farmstead of the 1930-60’s era.  A beautiful period farmhouse is close to the road.  Progressing back you encounter period buildings, including what might have once been a milk house, now labeled Carving School. There are two large barns in back.  One obviously houses tractors, pickup trucks and equipment.  The other barn which probably once held cattle or livestock, is now filled with stacks of rough-cut lumber, a large horizontal band saw, an industrial planer, a lumber kiln and piles of sawdust.  In front of that is what might have been another farm building but now is labeled  The Gallery.  Make no mistake, this is country. You are undeniably out in the country very much like it might have existed 70 years ago, save for an occasional out- of- time convenience like a modern outdoor wood-burning furnace.

This whole spread is home to Diane Harto and Jim Stadtlander, both renowned wood carvers. Their work has been featured all over the nation, in museums, galleries, and magazines. This is their gallery, their school, their home, their workshop, their lumber preparation machine, and their supply warehouse. Diane takes me on a tour through the farmstead.  We start at the gallery, the top of the line, so to speak, where the final products are displayed and sold.  Much of it is their own work but also included are works of various students they teach. There is everything from intricate carvings of feathers to rough-hewn carvings of animals made with chainsaws.  The contents of this gallery are taken periodically to various venues like the Yankee Peddler festival where artisans gather and the public flocks to see and buy artwork. Diane tells me that the fall leading up to Christmas is the most lucrative season for selling artwork. So they are very busy this time of year.

Both Diane and her husband Jim Stadtlander  have over 30 years of experience in wood carving.  Jim primarily does commission work while Diane teaches carving.  The school has been open for over ten years.  There are classes four days per week with about seven students per day.  Some classes consist of only women,others are made up of  people in their forties, fifties and sixties.  There is one lady who is 77. Thursdays have a heavy concentration of men, ranging from a coal miner to a doctor. Some of their students have been coming for over 10 years.  Diane also gives seminars.  She does some work with children but because of the complexity of the various machines and knives this is limited to a few children that have the aptitude for carving.

Next stop is the wood-preparation barn—sawmill– where logs are sawn into various sized boards for carving purposes.  Much of the wood is basswood, locally known as poplar and American tulip.  It is the preferred carving wood because of its fine grain and consistency.  The boards are stacked up in the kiln, the walls of which telescope out and cover the unit.  The wood is then dried for several weeks before it is ready to be planed and cut for carving. Jim used to sell dried hardwoods wholesale, hence my memory of the hardwoods for sale sign but these days there is no time for that sideline.

Across the way from the prep barn is the workshop which houses a large variety of woodworking machines including the usual table saws, band saws, drill presses, planers, and such but also includes specialized computer operated machines that incorporate milling machines, band saws, gouges and rasps and can reproduce patterns in as many boards as you care to feed through them.

We then go over to the school.  This is where that which we typically associate with hand carving takes place.  There are about 12 work stations which include a machine similar to what most people associate to a Dremel rotary cutter.  These are industrial cutters though called Foredom tools that are more substantial. Dental tools and drills are also employed.

There is a dust collection system at each station, and various small hand tools such as Exacto knives, gouges and such. Basically, an idea is mapped out in pencil on a block of wood then, using rotary cutters, rough formed to the eventual desired contour. When that contour is achieved then the student goes to work with the hand tools, the gouges, chisels and knives to produce the details. The feather details on a carved bird may take more than 500 hours to complete.  A life-sized bust of a person may take thousands of hours.

For more information on enrolling classes or perusing the gallery you can call:  Diane Harto at 330-274-2671 or email jjsdh@roadrunner.com. Visit the Gallery at 2881 Frost Road, Mantua Ohio 44255

I signed up for two prominent, well-advertised, on-line dating services, EEK- Grominy and Lighter Dot Com.  Every day I received 3-20 new matches based on my “personality inventory” results, and other, unknown calculations. These were guaranteed to be close matches (listed as 70%, 80%, 89% matches) to my needs and personality type. From what I can gather the criteria they use to match people are apparently things like 1) Likes to watch TV, 2) Likes Outdoors, 3) Likes to go to restaurants, 4) Likes Politics, 5) Likes dogs, 6) Likes to sniff old, used socks (OK, not really).  Week after week I e-mailed my interests to lady after lady after lady. By their descriptions and percentage ratings we seemed to have very similar interests. I got no responses though! Continuing on, I soon put 2 and 2 together and hypothesized that these descriptors listed on the profiles were often not in their own words but seemingly abstracted by a computer from various multiple choice questions you had to answer upon signing up. I got no responses, not an, “I’m not interested”, not a “No thanks”, nothing. Finally, after 4 weeks and probably over 100 overtures, one lady did respond. Even a blind squirrel occasionally gets a nut I guess!

We set up to meet at a Cracker Barrel Restaurant– her choice.  She didn’t look like her picture though. In fact I didn’t recognize her. The only way we actually made contact was when, after we both wandered about the lobby, she asked me if I was Skip! She was not unattractive, and like me, average. We talked for 45 minutes. I quickly noted that she was obviously not enthralled with me possibly because I have stiffness in my back, or ???  I’m not the perfect specimen anymore.  We conversed. Her words seemed forced.  I tried to buy her dinner.  She wouldn’t eat.  So I had a piece of pie and a coke. She had tea.  I was starving. I could have eaten a horse. But I was polite. I said, “Maybe we could meet again here next week?”  She said OK.  I went back the next week. She was a no-show. I just chalked it up to payback from years ago once when I was in the service.

Over the course of the next 8-10 weeks I did get a few responses from my e-mailing efforts. There were a couple, “Sorry, I’m not interested, You’re not my type” and one crazy lady who wanted to meet me right now never mind that someone she had dated was apparently living in her house and she couldn’t get rid of him. I heard her whole sorrowful story and wished her luck…….and lost that phone number.  The dog ate it!

Another lady did actually have lunch with me. Even from her picture she looked way out of my league but her pose and the background were so out of synch for a dating service photo that I couldn’t resist sending the cryptic message—“Are you the Cheshire cat eating the mouse!”  She bit. We seemed to hit it off well all during lunch but she obviously was playing an intellectual, one-up-man-ship game. In the parking lot I asked if we might meet again.  She said “What’s wrong with your back?  You can’t straighten up very well can you?   I play golf 20 times a week. This won’t work.  Maybe we can have lunch again sometime because you apparently can keep up with me intellectually.  Call me some time!”  She got in her BMW, put the top down and drove into the sunset. I got in my Hyundai, opened the window, and drove out of the parking lot!  I never called her.

I also noted that, despite my asking for candidates within 25 miles, 99% of my potential matches/dates consistently lived from 50 to 300 miles away. One even lived in China but was “coming to America soon!” And of course, about once a week I got a seemingly obligatory flirt from some scantily clad, sexy 30 year old bombshell living in Albuquerque or Milwaukee, or Hawaii—a good bit farther than my requested 25 mile limit  So I e-mailed the two on-line firms and complained that they were not honoring my wishes and that I felt that they were sending me bogus messages and flirts!  I was not at all happy with their services.  After a fair lapse of time they responded and assured me that they were trying to send appropriate matches within 25 miles my way.  Well, you know how that went, don’t you? I might as well have yelled down a well.  There was no change what-so-ever. So four months into the contract I cancelled both services-do not renew—drop me now! (If you don’t do this they automatically renew you indefinitely and charge your credit card until you inform them otherwise. This is stated in the contract.) I wonder if this is legal?  I am convinced that there are dead people still being listed as candidates because nobody cancelled their contract.   “Sorry we can’t do that: Your listing will end when the time is up. In the mean-time we’re sure that you will find someone to your liking on our service”, they responded. As the 6 month deadline approached, the EEK-Grominy people, who usually sent me 1-3 matches a day, began daily sending me 5-20 different matches and then, during the last week I got all 1425 (they said) of their customers thrown at me—some from Alaska and Puerto Rico.  Of course none of them responded to me either but I admit that I didn’t write to all 1425 of them.  I got writer’s cramp. The Lighter Dot Com people—who had many more months on their contract– just kept daily sending me 20 new “fresh” matches which, after 8 months, I began to recognize as many of the same people shuffled around each day with maybe a few new faces added. I’m pretty sure that, if only just to test the limits, I’ve now responded to most of these people once, twice, four times—sometimes cryptically and mysteriously just to see if I could draw a response. I got none!  I got to know pretty much most of their customers by their pictures and crazily made up names like AnAn, Sexygurl, and Poosie Suzie which invariably were sent to me over and over and over again. I have trouble remembering names, except for one unfortunate, ill-chosen name –Msphyllis—(yes, I read and re-read that one several times to make sure that it wasn’t what I initially thought it was) but if I see a face once I remember it forever.

Let’s talk locations and social class.  From my now eight months experience with these two Dot Coms, if a lady is from, say, a well to do suburb like Chagrin Falls, Hiram, Hudson or Aurora, there is no way that she will respond to you if you are from working class, Mantua, Streetsboro, Windham, or Twinsburg. We apparently do not warrant responding to. Virtually every response that I did get was from a similar working class location.  Your best bet to get responded to is picking someone from a similar social class neighborhood.

I quickly recognized that the pictures people post of themselves on these Dot Coms tell you a great deal about themselves and correlate highly with social class and location.    As they say, “Pictures tell a thousand words.”  Many of the posted pictures of women are obviously posed in a studio and include vases of flowers, background antiques, fancy drapes and the woman striking a pose right out of Good Housekeeping Magazine dressed to the nines. Some were even in dance or ballerina poses. The included extra pictures were frequently labeled “Me on the beach at the Riviera, Me drinking wine in Tuscany, Me in Cannes, and Me and Bilbo in Cancun”—Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me!!!!  Now do you think for one minute that any of these women are going to be interested in common old Skip Schweitzer from working class Mantua, sitting on the back of his Model “A” Ford tailgate or in front of his wall of trophy fish?  So you very quickly begin to only consider women who are obviously un-made up, in natural snap shot poses, real life looking women who look their age.

My daughter, a university professor and researcher, researched these firms and confirmed that the response rate is about 1-3 percent.  What this means is that for every 100 responses you make to these prospective women you may get 1 to 3 responses back.  That is as low as, or lower than the response rate to random laundry detergent surveys you get in the mail.

Let’s be honest. I am not the world’s most handsome man. I am balding, 67 years old, a little bent over from years of hard work and athletic injuries. I am not Adonis.  But I am not ugly and stupid; I am average.  I can talk about most anything, I am interesting and can be funny. I put a realistic picture of me in the dot coms. Obviously the lady who stood me up was able to recognize me from it.

The straw that broke the camel’s back, though came the other day when a lady responded to me a couple times, forwarded me her phone number and asked me to call.  I did so and within the first two sentences she hung up.

Was it my breath? Perhaps it was the 8th day of a seven day deodorant pad? Was I sucking the helium out of balloons again?  I’ll never know! It’s good that I have a strong ego.

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  

Author’s note: The names of the various dot coms have been changed

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.


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 – 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.

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.