Chapter 3-6 (1980-2004) Ohio
Because this period of our lives has spanned over thirty years, I felt that breaking the chapter down into two parts outlining life in the two resident locations, Ohio and Florida made sense, even though there is an overlap in the years spent in these locations made. We are not technically snowbirds, since we have been Florida Residents since moving to Florida in 2005. Snowbirds typically spent three or four winter months in Florida. We spend nine months in Florida and spend June through August travelling to Ohio and visiting family in Utah and Idaho.
Of course, during these many years, sickness and death are always a part of life. In 1984, we lost Mary’s Father to Heart Disease and Black Lung, and in 1986, Mary’s Mother of a series of strokes. I lost my adopted Father in 2002 to a heart attack and my Mother in 2005 to cancer. My birth father died in 1991 following an unsuccessful heart by-pass. In addition, Mary had lost a Brother Raymond in 1978, and we continued to lose aunt’s and uncles throughout the years. All of these will be discussed further in Chapter 15, “Family.”
During the years from 1986 to present, we made many trips as a family, most times to visit relatives, but we usually tried to combine these trips with other activities. For instance, when going to the temple, we would take time to see the sights in Washington, D.C. If visiting family in Tennessee we would go to Lookout Mountain or see the sights of Chattanooga or State Parks in Tennessee or Kentucky. David was very interested in the Civil War and we visited so many Civil War battlefields, that I lost count.
We visited Vicksburg. Gettysburg, Lookout Mount and Chicamauga among others. Because both my Great-Grandfather Penry and Mary’s Great-Grandfather Millsaps were in the Civil War, these trips held special significance for us.
On one trip to Washington, we were on a city bus going to the National Zoo, and recognized a fellow passenger taking his children too. It was the actor Ed Bagley, Jr. The children were excited.
Cindy, David, Becky, Karen, Andrew at National Zoo
In Chapter 9, I discussed my involvement in Scouting and Campfire. This involvement continued for some years. David was fourteen when I took the position at ODE. His interest in scouting waned as he became more involved in academics, particularly the sciences. Andrew was now in Cub Scouts, and I was in my mid 40’s. My involvement with my new job and demands of church duties made it increasingly hard to be involved in working directly with the youth. For several years I continued as Cubmaster, then Explorer Advisor. Mary continued to be more involved in campfire and with the 11 year old boys in the Blazer program. Eventually, my scouting invoIvement transitioned to working with the adults in various capacities. As age, health and other interests became a higher priority and our children were all past scouting age, Mary and I gave up both the Scouting and Campfire.
Working in downtown Columbus, Ohio had its advantages. City Center Mall and Lazarus were only a block away. There were 8 banks within walking distance. We also had a tailor and a shoe repair shop across the street. We also had a park next to the building and two city parks within three blocks. COSI and Veterans Memorial were just across the Scioto River, and the Santa Maria replica was moored a block away. All-in-all, it was a great location.
Columbus has a lot of festivals and at various times, the street behind our building hosted art fairs, rib-fests, jazz festivals, Latino festivals, and even Formula One racing. The big event was Red, White and Boom, the huge million attendee Fourth of July celebration. The festivities started with a parade and after dark, the fireworks, always accompanied by a special sound program from a radio station. The firework company set up right across the river, and we were permitted to bring our families into the building were we could watch the display in air-conditioned comfort. All lights in the building were turned off at the master-control. The family had to be in the building by 6:00 p.m. Most came with picnic hampers and had a party.
And now Ladies and Gentlemen… RED, WHITE, AND BOOM!!!
For several years, Ford sponsored Formula 1 racing. The track wound through the streets downtown with concrete barriers against the curbs. The manhole covers where welded shut because the cars would actually suck them up as they went over at 190 mph. Bleachers were erected at various locations to watch the races. One day, I was walking across the town street bridge for some reason at noontime. Time trials for the race were in progress and on the other side of the barrier cars would come screaming past doing nearly 200 mph. All of a sudden, a little brown scraggly dog came trotting right down the middle of the bridge totally unconcerned. I knew that if a car came around the corner, the dog would be history and might cause a wreck.
I jumped over the barrier and grabbed the dog and jumped back. He was matted and dirty, but he immediately decided that I was his best friend. I took him back to the office, explained the situation and told my co-workers I was going to run him home and would be back in about an hour. I walked out to my car with the dog in hand, and took him home and put him in the garage. Mary wasn’t home and came in later, opening the garage door to park. The dog came trotting out and she figured he was a neighbor’s dog that had been accidentally locked in the garage. I came home later and asked Mary “Where is my dog?” Well, he showed up a little later and became part of the family for years. We cleaned him up and combed out the tangled mess and cut part of it out. He looked like Benji. We named him Sebastian. We tried every technique in the books, but could never house-train him, so he lived outside. I built a dog-house for him. He was very friendly, but his coat was a nightmare. He was kind of like the little kid “Pigpen” in Charlie Brown. He was a natural dirt magnet. Eventually he became very ill and we had him put to sleep at the Vets office in West Jefferson.
On New Year’s Eve, Columbus hosts First-Night Columbus, an alcohol free family event downtown. Almost every building has its lobby open for musical groups, dancers, magicians, face-painting, story tellers, jugglers, etc. I volunteered and still do. Our building’s lobby was one that was open for the event. I have taken ticket money, been the head of the Chinese dragon for the parade, and ran a street exhibit.
1st Night, the Gentleman flipping pancakes is Governor Taft
COTA, Columbus Ohio Transit Authority, ran free bus service for Red, White, and Boom, First-Night Columbus, and provides a free shuttle down town in a bus that looks like a trolley, and provides free bus service from downtown to the Ohio State Fair.
In 1992, Columbus hosted an event centered abound Franklin Conservatory. This event featured floral displays and exhibits. As part of this event the LDS Columbus Ohio Stake wrote a play “Columbus, a Voyage of Discovery” which highlighted the 1492 voyage. A stage was built that could be rocked to simulate a ship and the actors and lead singers came from Rick’s College (now BYU North) in Idaho. Original music was written by Barnaby Cornaby from the Columbus Ohio Stake. It was so popular that it lasted as a summer event for several years, being held on the Scioto River using the replica of the Santa Maria and the adjacent dock-side as a stage. I played in Christopher for two years, singing and playing the part of the ship’s cook. My highlight is where, just before the landing, the crew starts to mutiny and I attack Columbus with a meat cleaver!
One of the big events in Columbus is the Ohio State Fair, which we attended many times. The Ohio State Fair was at one time, the largest fair in the United States. The fairgrounds are so extensive that an overhead tramway is used for travel. It looks like a horizontal ski lift. We enjoyed the exhibits, but stayed away from the rides. The Bricker building held commercial exhibits from all over the world, the Rhodes Building has the displays from school vocational clubs and organizations such as 4-H, Scouts, and Campfire. Many buildings are named after former Ohio governors.
Scenes from the Ohio State Fair
We are big fans of Ohio State Football and when a game is being played, all else stops at our house. The family drives in for a home tail-gate party. Mary Ann has her pompoms and the snacks are readied for the big kickoff. GO BUCKS!!
Ohio State’s big rival is Michigan and there is a very strong rivalry between the two which culminates in the big game of the year. Everything in Columbus stops for this game. Only a fool or someone from a foreign country would even think of driving near the stadium. Almost every home has the TV on for the game, sports bars are packed and the quickest way to make an enemy is to even dream of calling someone on the phone during the game!
One of the members of my Kiwanis Club was Thomas Zanetos, the President of Anthony-Thomas Candy Company, the largest family-owned candy company in America. I have included the cover page of the Anthony-Thomas website for two reasons. The first is that the website was created by Corporate Communications Solutions, Inc., my son Andrew’s company and secondly because my daughter Rebecca did most of the photography for the company.
One Christmas season, as a family, we decided to carole our friends. We went to Tom and Agnes Zanetos’ home in Upper Arlington. They were very surprised and pleased. But, before we left, Tom insisted we take candy along. Now I thought he meant a box, but no, he loaded our family with giant chocolate candy canes, and boxes of candy. It is good thing that eyes don’t glow in the dark when we are happy, because my children’s eyes could have lit up half the city! I think mine were a little bright too!
An important event in the area is the Dublin Irish Festival held each summer. I have been attending for years accompanied by my grandchildren, Morgan and Dylan. This is a fantastic time, with great Celtic Music. You can enjoy folk or rock music. There are exhibits of all kinds. You can buy all types Celtic and Appalachian music instruments, many handmade. You can attend an Irish wake, or visit a Viking village. You can eat Irish stew and soda bread or drink Irish beer. There are activities for children. We always go for the music however. Many of the acts have come from Ireland, Scotland or Canada. There are also local Celtic Groups.
Morgan and Dylan at the Irish Festival
A wide selection of music and dance at the Dublin Irish Festival
Each year over the Labor-Day weekend, the Greek Orthodox Cathedral sponsors the Greek Festival on the Cathedral grounds. This festival includes food, dancing, music. We have attended several times. One year Tom Zanetos recruited me to help out at the festival. I wasn’t sure what he expected, but he wanted me to help him be a bartender! It wasn’t too hard since about all we served was Ouzo and Retsina which is a Greek resinated wine. Its unique flavor is said to have originated from the practice of infusing amphorae with Aleppo Pine resin in ancient times.
For several years starting in 2002, our family attended the Renaissance Fair in Waynesville, Ohio, usually in October. Mary, Karen and Craig made costumes for the entire clan. This was fabulous family fun, with costumes, exhibits, games, music and food. This is an activity for which we always looked forward. This was a time when we could fantasize and live in medieval times. People talked or tried to talk in medieval accents. “Pardon m’lady, but do you perchance kin the way to the joust?” Anyway, it was great fun. The grandchildren engaged in sword fights with wooden swords. We laughed at the antics of the comedy nuns such as “Sister Helena Handbasket. ” We liked the swordsman and the jugglers. Andrew, the Cardinal, was asked for blessings every where he went, which he freely distributed. The royal Baker family dined with us peasants. Our family knights and wenches were in high spirits and we went to see Bob Ford the Folk Singer. It was then off to the jousting tournament with the thundering sound of the horses and the clash of the lances. The festival Queen was in her Royal Booth and the contestants wound the scarves of the ladies around their arms as they fought for their honor and favor. We feasted on deep-fried turkey legs, bread bowls of beans or soup. We were glad that the festival thought that Pepsi had been around since medieval times, or we might have had to drink mead or beer! The men wanted to see the belly dancers. The kids wanted to see the pirates and the ladies of the family liked to browse in the vendors’ booths and see the glass-blowing, and musical wine glasses and listen and see the music and antics of the Tartan Terrors. Scottish girls in plaid miniskirts dancing to the sound of bagpipes is something to behold. They liked the men in their kilts, although they would never admit it.
One of the family pleasures we have always enjoyed is finding good restaurants, not necessarily fancy restaurants, but those where we enjoy the food. Our family favorites in Ohio were the China Bell in Grove City, El Vaquero in Columbus, Los Mariachis in London, Der Dutchman and the Dutch Kitchen in Plain City, Michael’s in Marion, Susie’s in Marysville and probably our family favorite, the G&R Grill in Waldo, Ohio.
The G&R is a Sports Bar, but it is famous for its Lebanese Bologne Sandwich. This has always been a place where both our children and my sister Ruthellen’s family enjoys. The breaded pickles, mushrooms, curly fries, and a huge variety of tasty, fattening foods, including enormous meringue pies always pleases the not too discriminating palate. My son, Andrew and I always choose more eclectic cuisine such as sushi bars, Mongolian Bar-b-q, Dim Sum, and fancy ice-cream parlors. When I worked downtown, there were lots of street vendors peddling hot dogs, brats, and sweet potato pies. But while working downtown, my favorite was Ho Toys, where I could get authentic Thai fried rice. There was an excellent Vietnamese restaurant nearby, and while still in business, the Lazarus restaurant with its wonderful whiskey breaded pudding. One type of food I personally enjoyed, but seldom took family members, were the “trailer taco” stands, where you could get very, very good tacos complete with lime and radish and an ice cold soft drink.
After we first moved into our home on Renaa Avenue, it became evident that it just did not have all the amenities we desired, so we began remodeling. The first was the kitchen. We had a small formal dining room on one side of the kitchen and a family room on the other. Between the kitchen and family room, was a half-wall with decorative posts and a walk through at the end of the half-wall. I could see the wall was not structurally necessary, so after we had cleaned up after Thanksgiving dinner, I took a sledge hammer to the wall and removed it. We also stripped all of the cabinets and removed the single porcelain sink. We knew we wanted good Amish cabinets and Mary did the design work. We had the cabinets custom made out of hickory and had a new steel double sink installed and all new cabinet tops. Mary designed a sit-down wide counter top between the kitchen and family room.
We converted the family room into a country dining room and had the sliding doors leading to the patio replaced with french doors. We had the cabinets delivered and my nephew Vincent Thompson did the installation. He worked for a home-building company in Marion. I also installed track lighting and a valance with a plate display rack over the wide-counter. I removed the overhead incadescant light and replaced it with a large enclosed florescent fixture. I installed a ceiling fan and light in the country dining room.
Our basement was unfinished when we moved in. We needed a family room, so I remodeled the basement. I built one wall which divided the basement into two rooms and installed paneling on the walls, laid carpet and built a large bookcase on one wall and on the opposite, a work-counter/bookcase combination. I built a 40 gallon aquarium into one wall. I put up ceiling tile and we ended up with a cozy basement family room and a large storage room. We put a deep freeze, washer and dryer in the storage area. I installed metal shelving in the storage area used for food storage. I installed florescent lighting in the storage area and incandescent ceiling lights in the family room. We had a large round combination bumper pool table which had a top that was set up for gaming on one side, and was solid on the other, so we could use it for multiple purposes. We built up an enormous library of books and videos. This family room became a study room for our children’s friends. It was also used for early-morning seminary.
During the years, we had a variety of fish in our aquarium. We raised African cichlids, fire-mouth cichlids, various gouramis, tetras, catfish, plecostomus, and even gold fish. It seems we were constantly fighting with aquarium heaters, pumps, lighting, diseases, plants, etc. They were nice to watch, but not easy to maintain.
We had a continual supply of cats. They were just your ordinary house cats, in various shades of gray and white. We had a mother cat named Cleo who presented us with litters on a regular basis. We used to joke and say that she was born pregnant. We were always giving kittens away to friends. We had a friend that lived on a farm, that enjoyed having a lot of barn cats, and some ended up there. Our favorite cats were Felix and Tolstoi. Our son named Felix as “Felix Gandalf the Grey.” Tolstoi was our “tasty tidbit cat.” When we were eating, Mary would put a little bite of food on the corner of the table. This paw would mysteriously appear from under the table, reach up, snatch the bite, and disappear just as it had appeared. Later on, Andrew and Cindy got their own pets which are still part of the household as of January of 2013. Andrew has a dog and cat, “Clancy”and “Fizgig”, and Cindy has a cat “Boots.”
We had plenty of room for a garden in our backyard on Renaa Avenue. Each year we planted a garden, usually tomatoes, beans and peppers. Because the soil was so high in clay, root crops did not do well, in spite of adding compost. Each year, as the heat of summer would bake the soil, it would crack and get extremely hard. When the house was built, instead of hauling away the material excavated from the basement, the builder spread it over the topsoil, creating a lawn full of clay, rock and building debris. I had one area that grass never flourished. I dug down and three inches under the soil was an eight-foot by 12 inch scaffold plank! Every year, I would roto-till and dig up another pile of rocks.
When we first moved in there was a chain-link fence around the back lawn. I took this out. In the very back, I erected an above-ground swimming pool. The first was a 15′ pool, which I later replaced with an 18′ pool. We spent a lot of time there on hot summer days.
Our front lawn had a maple tree which unfortunately had a forked trunk. As this grew, the former owner had wired the two trunks together for stability. Because the front lawn sloped, part of the roots were exposed which made mowing difficult. Eventually, one fork started to lean over the roof of the house and we had the tree cut down. As time went on the roots rotted and the lawn became very uneven with low spots where the roots had been. I have always intended to have topsoil laid over the lawn, but haven’t yet. The back lawn had a row of pine trees including two blue spruce. These did not thrive and we eventually had all the pines except one long-needled pine cut down. We had an apple tree, whose fruit was only good for cooking. We cut it down and it grew back but never produced. We had a cherry tree which was struck by lightning and we had to cut it down too. Now all that is left is one pine, one overgrown apple, and an enormous locust tree.
At the back of the house was a row of raspberry bushes. I dug them up and moved them along the fence at one side of the property. They always produce.
In the back yard was a low area that would flood in the winter and sometimes freeze over. Our children would ice-skate on this low spot.
Besides our immediate family, we have had a series of other people living with us temporarily. Some needed our help because of problems, while others needed a place to stay while visiting the area.
When we lived in Bowling Green, we had some very good friends in the Church, the Walbolt family consisting of Jerry, Sika his wife and three children. Jerry had married Sika in Thailand and she had two children. Their Americanized names were Pete and Penny. Their Thai names were almost unpronounceable. Jerry and Sika then had a child of their own Stephanie. Penny moved to Columbus and needed a place to stay while her apartment was being made ready. So she stayed with us for over a month. She taught Mary how to cook Thai food. Since our family loves Thai food, this was a blessing. Mary cooks Thai food often. Jerry became Bishop of the Bowling Green Ward. He has since died. Sika moved to Columbus and Sika and Penny remain friends. They came to our 50th Wedding Anniversary party. I have a Thai Chess set that I obtained from Jerry by trading our hand-cart. Sika used it as a planter in her front yard in Bowling Green.
While working at the International Festival, I stopped by a booth manned by the International Visitors’ Council. This organization, housed at the Columbus Airport, arranged for visitors from foreign countries to stay with local families. I signed us up as members and we had several visitors stay with us. One was a young man from Australia. Another was a Russian businessman who was learning how to install and maintain copy machines. His name was Sergei and he was from Novgorod. He brought us gifts from Russia. However, he was highly demanding and also drank heavily. He was with us two weeks and we were glad to see him go. The most enjoyable were a couple from Swaziland who were attending workshops at the Ohio State University. They were Veli and Princess Thwalla. He was Zula and she was Swazi. Princess was her name, not a title. Veli’s family owned orange groves and Princess’ family owned a series of supermarkets. We didn’t know what to expect, but they had both been educated at Cambridge University in England and spoke with impeccable English accents. It was Christmas time and we didn’t know if they even celebrated Christmas. I asked and Princess said (in a British Accent), “Oh yes, we are Methodist you know.” Mary made Christmas stockings for them and put in several things including a box of Cracker Jacks. They were fascinated by the Cracker Jacks and we sent several boxes back with them to Washington, D.C. They were attending Georgetown University, getting Doctorates in Agricultural
Princess told a most interesting tale of their marriage. The Zulus and Swazis has been at inter-tribal war for centuries, so their marriage was like a marriage between the Hatfields and McCoys. Both had to obtain permission from tribal elders. Veli had to travel to an adjoining country to obtain permission. Veli explained that even though he and Princess were very westernized and they moved in a sophisticated social circle, the tribal elders lived in reservations, much like our Native American reservations. Princess received disturbing news from the Swazi elders. Their marriage would have to be performed in traditional Swazi dress which included grass skirts and going topless! She was appalled, but she and her bridesmaids who were also college educated and westernized had to comply. She said they showed up at the cathedral in limos, topless and in grass skirts and who was waiting for them? National Geographic photographers. She was mortified. After they left we maintained contact for a couple of years. We visited them in Washington and went to lunch. We also gave them a tour of the Temple Visitors Center and gave them a Book of Mormon. We received a package from the Swazi embassy in Washington, a Swazi flag and an invitation to visit the embassy.
The International Visitors Center was promoting taking in Exchange Students. They gave me literature about several organizations. We looked them up on line and decided to accept a foreign exchange student. So into our live came Angeliki Koutla from Thessaloniki, Greece. Citizens of Thessaloniki are the Thessalonians of the New Testament. We talked to her on the phone and made some agreements. We would call her Angela and she would call us Mom and Dad. We picked her up at the Columbus Airport and on the way home, she got a puzzled look on her face and asked, “Dad, I thought the name of this state is Ohio.” I replied that it was and she said, “Then why do all the signs say Sohio.” Of course she didn’t realize that Sohio was a brand of gasoline. and the signs were at service stations. Sohio is now BP.
Angela settled in and we soon found out that Greek and American cultures can clash. She needed absolute quiet for studying. In Greece, families leave the house and go to a neighborhood bar while the children study. Education is a very high priority in Greece. Our children didn’t know the meaning of quiet. We were worried about Angela’s eating habits. She didn’t care for American food and only wanted to eat Salami sandwiches. Even though Thessaloniki is on the coast, she detested sea food! Finally, in desperation, we called her aunt in Greece who had also been an exchange student. We couldn’t call her parents, because they only spoke Greek. Her aunt said, “Don’t worry, that is how she ate here.” We found out that she did like pizza and meat pie.
Cindy and Andrew didn’t care much for Angela. They found her annoying. Cindy was especially upset because she was hoping that when Karen left for college, she would then be top dog, but Angela was older.
However, Angela did have occasional trouble with the English language. Her pronunciation of many words was different. In Greek, the “h” in Chemistry is not silent. So Chemistry is pronounced like the “ch” in chair. Angela did remind us that these words were Greek and we were the ones that had messed up the pronunciation. “Show me any word, and I will show you how it came from the Greek.”
Angela was on the Westland Tennis Team. She was taking a heavy load of courses and making straight A’s in everything, and was in the top 25 students in her class. Exchange students were not eligible to be validictorian, regardless of GPA. One day, she came home very excited as said, “Guess what Dad, I get to torture the other students.” Knowing Angela, I could accept that. So I asked her to explain. She said, “You know, if they are having trouble in their studies, I get to help them!” Of course, she meant tutor.
Angela’s parents sent us Greek Bread for Easter every year, Tsoureki (pronounced Sore-ek-ee, and it is delicious. They also sent bottles of Ouzo and Greek Wine, which I gave to Tom Zanetos.
After Angela graduated from Westland High School, she decided to stay on for college. She was accepted at Bethany College in West Virginia and moved into the dormitory there. We visited her and she came back for visits along with trips back to Greece. She met a student from Haiti and they married and had two children. They moved to New Jersey. We kept in contact for several years. She went through a very messy divorce. She was going to take the children and go back to Greece, but her ex-husband’s family would not allow it. She then married a man from West Virginia. We have since lost contact.
We attended the Madison Lake Branch of the LDS Church. One of the young couples was John and Carolyn Berg and their two children. John joined the Army and left for boot camp and other training. Carolyn was in an apartment in London and was being harassed by a neighbor. Her apartment had been vandalized. Mary and I asked her to bring the children and stay with us. We had a good time. It was nice to have little children around once more. Cindy was still at home, but Andrew was in college and came home occasionally. John and Carolyn are still good friends and we look forward to their visits. He is career Army. Mary was Carolyn’s escort when John and Carolyn received their endowments in the Washington Temple.
We had a lot of friends in Ohio, not just those in the Church, but neighbors, Kiwanis, Scouting and Campfire associates. I will mention several of these who were particularly close. In the Church, there were the many friends from the Madison Lake Branch. Also the Helds from the 4th Ward and the Budges from Dublin. Every Christmas eve for many years, the Budge family would come to our home for a Christmas eve party. We saw their three girls, Melody, Suzette and Carrie grow from infancy up through missions and marriage.
We had a number of girls our daughters’ ages who belonged to Mary’s Campfire group who met in our home weekly and who were friends with our daughters. Next door was the Curtis family and next to them the Potts family. Their children were the same ages as ours and of course they hung out together. They often spent time in our swimming pool and studied in our basement family room. We always wondered why Andrew didn’t date the girl next door who was very pretty. He said, “It would be like dating my sister!” Jason Potts married and divorced and remarried Cindy’s best friend Jamie Smith.
We lived in Prairie Township and I was appointed by the Prairie Township Trustees to serve on the Board of Zoning Appeals. This was a five-year appointment. I was recommended by one of the trustees who was a member of Kiwanis in Grove City. Our job was to review requests for variance of township zoning ordinances. These including signage, fences, and property usage. One incident remains firmly inbedded in my memory.
In our township was a very wealthy family, the Galbreath’s. The father had been a banker and made his fortune by foreclosing on unfortunate families during the Great Depression. He was ruthless. He married the heir to the Firestone fortune and he had a lot of clout in the township. He was the owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The family owned a second estate near Lexington, Kentucky where they raised thoroughbred horses. One of their horses, Darby Dan, was a Kentucky Derby winner and the farm in Ohio was named Darby Dan Farm. When Dan Galbreath died, his son took over the family business and was a chip off the old block. He wanted to start a helicopter pilot training facility on his farm . We said no, because the farm was surrounded by residential neighborhoods. My Air Force experiences educated me into the noise level of helicopters and how disruptive the noise would be in addition to the danger of pilots in training flying over neighborhoods. Galbreath was furious and sued the township, and had liens placed on our homes by his legal staff. This was illegal and our township attorney had to take care of the problem. The state stepped in and the Attorney Journal sided with the township and the case was dropped.
The board consisted of five members, 2 men and 3 women. Another prominent businessman in Central Ohio was Bud Ricart, owner of Ricart Automotive Mini-Mall. This was the largest auto dealership in Ohio. He had a used car facility in our township and wanted to fly giant inflatable animals over his business and place signs far in excess of zoning rules. The men voted “No”, but he came in and charmed the ladies. They giggled at his charm and voted “Yes.” Disgusting, but what could we do.? We had kept the township looking pristine and here was this monstrosity of a business sitting right in the middle with giant elephants, apes, and big flashing neon signs! This business didn’t flourish and he eventually closed it down. It became a rent-a-car agency.
I enjoyed being involved in politics and joined the campaign staff for Richard Cordray who was running for State Representative. He was a Democrat, but I liked his ideas. I put up signs and helped out. He became a state representative, then the Ohio State Solictor, then the Ohio Attorney General. He then became the director of the United States Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and was appointed in 2011 by the President to that post.
I had medical problems which started in Vietnam. I had a urinary tract infection which resulted in removing 70% of my prostate. Each year I had my PSA checked. In 2001 the results came back – highly elevated and my Gleason Index was dangerously high. My urologist, Dr. George Ho did a biopsy and the results came back – prostate cancer. The word cancer is probably the scariest word in our language. This was a Thursday and was so advanced, that the doctor bumped someone from the Monday surgery schedule and operated and removed the prostate. Before I went into surgery, I had a Priesthood blessing. When I came out in recovery, Dr. Ho asked, “Do you believe in miracles.” I replied, “Yes, of course.” He then informed me that I was a walking miracle. I had six tumors and none had spread beyond the prostate. He said that he had never witnessed anything like that in over 25 years as a surgeon! It has been more than a decade and my PSA is still at zero.
I was working in our garden. I had built a retaining wall of concrete blocks around the garden and one needed respositioning. I lifted it up and as I did so my foot slipped in the west grass and my knee dislocated and actually bent opposite of the normal way. This was extremely painful. I was unable to sleep for several days and was exhausted. I went to a chiropractor who did electro and heat treatments and put me in a brace. This did nothing. It just kept getting worse. It progressed to using a cane and finally crutches. In desperation, I went to an orthopedic surgeon who took one look, shot my knee full of cortisone and by the next day the knee was fine. This was miserable 3 months of suffering for something that a qualified person could have fixed on the first day!
Many of our neighbors moved why we were on Renaa Avenue. The Potts and Curtis families both left. Our daughter Becky and family were living in an apartment and one day, Becky announced that they were buying the Curtis home. We then had part of our family living next door. This is both good and bad. We did have to establish some rules, that we did not have an open door policy and that our grandchildren had to call and check if it was OK to come over. We also announced that although we loved our grandchildren, we were not running a free baby-sitting service. This never really presented a problem and although we spent a lot of time with our grandchildren, they were never an imposition. In fact, we depended on Rob’s ability as a grill-master. We had a lot of back-yard picnics together.
In 2004, I went to Florida with Ruthellen and Gene and my Mom. Mary stayed in Ohio because she was still working. In January of 2005, we moved to Florida. In April of 2005, we left our Florida home to spend the summer in Ohio. The morning after we got back to Renaa Avenue, Mary got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. Unfortunately, the location of our bathroom door in Florida coincided with the location of our stairwell in Ohio. Mary stepped through what she thought was the door in the dark and went flying headfirst down a flight of steps. I heard the noise and said, “Mary, did you hear that noise?” She wasn’t in bed, so I go up and turned on the hallway light and looked down. Mary was in a heap at the bottom of the steps, moaning in a pool of blood. She had rammed her head through the wall, had scalp lacerations, broke a wrist and an elbow, knocked out a tooth, broke her nose and badly bruised a knee. Cindy called 911 and our daughter Becky who lived next door. Mary was taken to the hospital. For weeks she had both arms in casts. She had a plate and screws put in the wrist. If she had landed 3 inches to the side against the wall, she would have hit a stud and broken her neck. As bad as the fall was, it could have been much worse.
New Roof and Heat Pump. Maintenance on a home is never-ending and can be expensive. We had to have a new roof in both the Ohio and Florida homes, a heat pump in Ohio, and a furnance/air conditioning unit in Florida. All in the same year! Ray Martin and his sons from the Madison Lake Branch installed our new roof in Ohio which really helped with the expenses.
After retirement from the Ohio Department of Education I thought that this was the end of my working career. But, I was wrong. I soon found myself back at the department on contract to help with end-of-year processing. I did this for two years.
With the death of my Father, my Mother wanted to move up a provision of their will in which I was to receive the Florida Home. She wanted me to assume the financial responsibility of the taxes and insurance since her income was more limited than mine. I did so, and purchased the Florida home for a nominal sum required by law of ten dollars. It soon became evident that it wasn’t good to let the Florida property set vacant for years and in January 2005 Mary and I moved to Florida along with my Mother who could no longer live alone, making it our primary residence. In April we returned to Ohio for the summer, buy my Mother’s colon cancer returned and she passed away in September and we returned to Florida. We live in Florida from September to June and spend the summer at our home on Renaa Avenue. Since we had children living at the Ohio home, this ensured that both properties were maintained.