Ranking the Best VH Songs! Pencilstorm Goes on Spring Break to Cabo Wabo! - by Jeff Hassler

HEY GUYS!! Hassler here. I'm super stoked for Spring Break this year. Got the whole week off from Nationwide and I am totally single and totally ready to mingle. The Pencilstorm offices are going to be closed March 13th-22 so if you start jonesing for Pencilstorm hit our archives page and type in a word like Bon Jovi or Hassler. 

Colin and Ricki are totally burned out so they asked me to post something before we fly out tomorrow. I got a voice mail late last night, "Hassler, can you post something about how Pencilstorm is on vacation for a few days? Please don't do anything embarrassing." I know the guys love ranking songs by bands like KISS or Cheap Trick so I thought I would chip in with the TEN Best VH songs. You know, V H = Van Halen.  And the whole gang is headed to Cabo Wabo anyway... Just Sayin!

Hassler's 10 Best VH Songs! 

#10 - Running With The Devil - This is the only song I ever mastered after three years of bass lessons in high school. My ex-wife Kim said it was the first thing that attracted her to me when we played it at the Worthington High School talent show.

#9 - Beautiful Girls - I remember being on spring break in Panama City when I was in college and they would always play this at Club LaVela during the wet t-shirt contest. I tried to talk Kim into entering and the one time she did she WON! I missed it though. Had one too many "shark salutes" the night before and couldn't answer the bell if you know what I mean. (Ha!) What are the odds the one time I don't go she decides to dance? It was nice of those guys from the Auburn wrestling team to let her crash at their place that night too. Southern gentlemen no doubt.

#8 - Best of Both Worlds - When Kim had that job selling beers in the parking lot of the Varsity Club on game days and I would come visit her before going to see kick-off this song would play and I knew I truly had the "Best of Both Worlds." And Bobby Olive made THE CATCH.

#7 - Ice Cream Man - I've always been a big fan of interesting lyrics like from Rush and Bon Jovi but this one is cool because it's not just Ice Cream that Dave is talking about. Give it another listen if you missed it.

#6 - Summer Nights  - Come on! A stone cold classic. Reminds me of Thunder Road.

#5 - Feels So Good - The guys give me a hard time about it but OU812 is the best VH album. Case closed. 

#4 - Right Here Right Now - Think about it. Seriously. Live in the moment. One time I tried to do a Hot Yoga class with Kim and it got really hot. Like super hot.  We were supposed to have a mantra so I kept saying to myself Right Here Right Now. I guess I got a little carried away because Kim started telling me to be quiet but I was in the zone. I was sweating so many toxins out and so in the zone that I sorta got sick right then and right now. Kim was sweet to help me clean it up. 

#3 TIE!!!!!! Love Walks In AND When It's Love. Kim and I danced to Love Walks In at our wedding but When It's Love was always "our video." I'm sorta glad MTV doesn't play videos anymore. The thought of Kim watching this with Chad makes me nauseous. Like hot yoga. 

#2 - Jump - Well. duh!

#1 - Cabo Wabo - I'm kind of new to this tune as when Kim and I were having some trouble my attorney insisted I stay away from triggers so I would pass the mandatory blood test. But now that I am single and ready to mix it up I FELL IN LOVE with this song. And the Pencilstorm staff is going to CABO. I'm so stoked for the trip I made a fan video to get everybody pumped up. This one is for Wal and Scott! 

Sorry you guys won't have any new Pencilstorm stuff for a week but I'll do a shot of Cabo for you. I hope it isn't too expensive. Hassler is out. 

Check Out the Video I made!!!! - Hassler.



Why I'm Excited for Roman Reigns to Headline WrestleMania (Again) - by Big Vin Vader

Why I’m Excited for Roman Reigns to Headline WrestleMania (Again) 

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There, I said it.  That might be the single most blasphemous statement to most hardcore WWE fans.  At the same time, all of the nonstop Roman hating has pretty much run its course.  I can understand being sick of having him forced as the company's top guy year in and out, but John Cena is privy to just as divisive a reaction.  Let's face it, the RAW I was at last December at the Schott was full of Roman fans; I saw more of his merch than anyone else, and his reaction from the crowd was pretty much all positive.  And let's not forget how into the Shield everyone was, both initially, as well as leading up to last year's botched reunion.  Not to mention the fact that Reigns participated in several of 2017's all-around best matches: his Royal Rumble clash with Kevin Owens was one of my favorites, and the multi-man matches at Extreme Rules and SummerSlam were fantastic, with his series against Braun Strowman not falling far behind. Plus, he had a barnburner of a match with Cesaro on Raw at the end of the year. His promo game has always been somewhat lacking, but that's not for his lack of confidence in delivery.  And the verbal thrashing he laid on Brock Lesnar following last week's so-so Elimination Chamber match points to him improving in that regard to become one of the company's best all-around performers.  So the issue really shouldn't be with Reigns himself, but with the role the company insists on putting him in.  However, if he keeps delivering at this consistent rate, then there should be no real reason to regard the backlash he will undoubtedly continue to get.

People really ought to be fed up with Brock Lesnar's prominent position as the face of RAW, given his reduced schedule, aforementioned homophobia, and general disinterest in delivering enjoyable singles matches.  But he has always been capable of delivering better.  When Brock is pressured to put on a good performance, he can really bring it.  After two wet squib squashes against Goldberg, Lesnar stepped up his game at last year's WrestleMania to deliver one of the best sub-five-minute matches I've seen.  That match also served as a solid reminder of the incredible athletic potential that Brock still possesses yet generally fails to display.  His match with Samoa Joe at Great Balls of Fire was also very good, although it was hampered by its short runtime and predictable outcome.  Basically, he may phone it in more often than not with his part-time schedule, and I certainly don't like him as a person, but he is capable of delivering a great match when he feels compelled to do so.  He's also going to have been champion for a full year by the time WrestleMania comes around, so the stakes are high over the title change whether the fans want Roman to win or not.  And even if a good portion of the fans are opposed to him as Universal Champion, isn't he far better suited to a top spot than Jinder Mahal ever was?  Also, do title belts even really mean much any longer?

If you ask me, people make way too much of the main event position of WrestleMania.  Also, even the term "main event" has been devalued at this point.  Randy Orton won the Royal Rumble last year, meaning he was supposed to take that spot at Mania; his match against Bray Wyatt lasted ten minutes and was seventh on the ten-match card.  The main event isn't even the best match on the show: last year that honor went to Shane McMahon's curtain jerker against AJ Styles.  Hell, I can't even begin to count how many WrestleManias put their worst overall matches in the main event spot.  The way WWE has been running their PPVs lately, the final match is the perfect time to tune out following six hours of programming.  I know I fell asleep multiple times throughout Reigns' last coronation against Triple H at WM32.  All of that considered, why should it really matter if Roman headlines the event for the fourth year in a row?

All of that makes it seem like I'm just dismissing the match off the bat, but as the title of this column suggests, I'm actually looking forward to Lesnar vs. Reigns.  This match has been no secret, having been booked nearly a year ago and unchanged in any way since.  We've had plenty of time to prepare ourselves, and people seemed to will themselves to forget about this, or at least expect a last-minute change.  Obviously all the talk of Lesnar returning to UFC shook things up a little bit, and certainly seemed to solidify Reigns' apparent victory.  But there have been a few notable moments along the way that have looked to make this one something memorable, something less than the expected phoned-in coronation of Roman Reigns.   Also, with the possibility of Brock retiring from wrestling once again, it seems like a sure shot for him to turn in a top-notch performance on his way out.  This is the exact thing to light a fire under his ass and force him to deliver a quality farewell.

More to the point when it comes to anticipating this match, we need to look at its direct precedent: Lesnar vs. Reigns for the WWE Title at WM 31.  Everything about that match was awesome, and it was another perfect example of Roman shining in the main event spot.  Lesnar and Reigns have complementary hard-hitting styles, as well as a shared versatility that keeps their powerhouse moves from clashing in the course of things.  Their match was brutal and full of hardway blood, which was shocking to see but also lent the conflict more drama and made each wrestler look legitimately vulnerable.  Let's be honest, if there's anyone who looks like they could believably hurt Brock, it's Roman Reigns.  And after fifteen or so minutes of incredible, fast-paced action (and don't forget that both men can pull off incredible selling jobs) the whole show was thrown for a loop as Seth Rollins cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase and pinning a weakened Reigns to snag the title.  So technically, the predicted outcome of this year's match isn't even a rehashed finish.  Everything about that earlier match points in favor of this rematch delivering an even better showing, although I'm really hoping they stick with the lean runtime of the earlier contest.

Finally, right after winning the men's Elimination Chamber match, Reigns delivered a career-best promo on RAW, tearing into Brock's part-time schedule and behind-the-scenes attitude.  It was a blistering two minutes, and delivered the sort of scripted heat that's been lacking from pretty much every episode of the flagship show.  In doing yet another fake shoot-style promo, Reigns inadvertently gave voice to a large portion of the hardcore audience that is traditionally against him in every way.  This is smart booking, even though the "things 'they' don't want me to say" shtick feels a little tired.  The way to get Reigns over as a face is to call attention to his reliability, his constant presence and dependability.  Lesnar's part-time schedule has been a subject of much derision from fans, and it was time that somebody brought that into the storyline.  Even more to the point, Reigns called Brock out for skipping Elimination Chamber (not that he was booked) to take photos with Dana White, calling his loyalty in question.  To cap it all off, he called Brock a bitch, which got a big shock reaction from the crowd, so I'd say it paid off to err on the side of bad taste this time around.  That promo helped prove that Reigns is out to prove himself yet again, while also making sure that Lesnar will be out for blood once he gets his hands on his challenger.

So don't talk to me about all of the times Reigns has been forced on fans, or all of the great (possibly even better) wrestlers that have been sacrificed to his various pushes.  What we have here is a sure-shot incredible match that should steal the show, particularly in light of some recent misguided booking decisions.  Consider: there's a very real chance that AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura's dream match will become a triple-threat featuring John Cena.  I'm sure it would still be great, but that isn't what people want or need to see.  And then, likely to be an absolute mess, is the newly-announced Triple H/Stephanie McMahon vs. Ronda Rousey/Kurt Angle.  That's even worse of an idea than putting the Rock in Angle's place.  Stephanie can't wrestle, Kurt barely can any longer, and Rousey hasn't even been tried in the ring as of yet.  This match will be a disaster, emphasized even further by the fact that Stephanie McMahon (along with Rousey) could very well be the first woman to headline WrestleMania.  Think about that before complaining about Reigns winning the Universal Title.

Big Vin Vader covers WWE for Pencilstorm. Follow on twitter @bigvinvader 





KISS Master Blaster - My KISS Record by Colin Gawel


Eddie Trunk recently released a cool list of his top twenty KISS songs. But just before that moment, Pencilstorm held a fantasy draft of songs from the KISS Unmasked era. Now that is something never attempted by mankind. Some might say it put the X in the Xtreme and even Exposed the Extreme.  Click here for the full results of the draft . Below is the album selected by Colin Gawel. More albums from other owners coming soon. Enjoy!

KISS Master Blaster  

Produced by Colin Gawel with permission of the Pencilstorm Unmasked KISS Fantasy Draft. Number next to song indicates the round it was taken. 

Side One

Crazy Crazy Nights (5)

Hide Your Heart (2)

Hell or High Water (4)

Read My Body (12)

Forever (7)

Thief in the Night (9)

Side Two

Thou Shall Not (3)

Tears Are Falling (1)

I’m Alive (10)

Let’s Put The X in Sex (8)

Secretly Cruel (6)

The Street Giveth and the Street Taketh Away (11)


Thoughts on side one:

Crazy Crazy Nights (Crazy Nights) - I was hoping to land Unholy and Heart of Chrome but unfortunately lost both to draft lottery winner Matt Walters. By round five I was backed into a corner and really needed a song to lead off my album. Maybe it’s just force of habit but it’s hard to imagine a song that didn’t lead off a side of a real KISS record leading off my fake record. So though never my favorite song or record, I chose Crazy Nights and immediately slotted it to lead off my record. I also thought about naming my record Crazy Crazy Crazy Nights instead of Master Blaster. 

Hide Your Heart (Hot in the Shade) - As mentioned, I missed out on my first two picks so I pivoted and went with two singles giving me this song in the 2nd round. Though it’s kinda cheesy and the production isn’t great, it’s catchy as hell and I’ve always had a soft spot for it after seeing Paul debut it live on his solo tour at the Newport Music Hall in Columbus, OH. His “COME ON!” is one of my favorite Paul moments.

Hell or High Water (Crazy Nights) - After nabbing two Paul songs out of the gate, I knew I had to rally quick and grab some decent Gene tunes before the pickings got slim. Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of Ron Nevison production style but I think it works very well in this instance. Slick, but rocking enough to do the Demon justice. Hearing Paul doing background vox towards the end is a bonus. FAN VIDEO!!!

Read  My Body (Hot in the Shade) Ugh. There just isn’t any place to hide this stinker so in the interest of keeping both sides of my record relatively balanced I’m going to slot it before my big ballad. Bonus points that they modulate and move up a full step before the last chorus like they were cutting Born to Run.  Let's turn the page and get to the good stuff.... FAN VIDEO!!!


Forever (Hot in the Shade) - I felt lucky to grab the biggest hit of the Unmasked era in the 7th round. My record may not be the best, but I think it might have been the top selling of the bunch. One thing that became clear to me doing research for this draft is what an unfocused mess HITS is. It’s WAY too long and many songs just don’t sound finished. KISS got very lucky that this song, buried in the middle of 15 songs,  found its way into the pop top ten. In fact, without this surprise hit, KISS wouldn’t have even toured behind this record. What would have happened to the band? KISSstory would have taken a different course without it. Live in Australia with a Symphony and Beck's Dad conducting Peter Criss???? Hells Yeah!

Thief in the Night (Crazy Nights) A fairly forgettable though not awful Gene song to round out side one.

Side Two:

Thou Shall Not (Revenge) I think Revenge and Lick it Up are the best records of the Unmasked era and I got exactly ONE song total from either so I guess I wasn’t alone in that thinking. This song rocks way harder than any other on this record so I’m just going to lead off side two with it. Taking it in the 3rd round I thought I would be able to find some other hard rockers later in the draft but lonely is this hunter. FAN VIDEO!!

Off the top of my head: Ranking the Gene songs that lead off a KISS side. As released on real records and not reissues.

  1. Deuce 2) Unholy 3) I Love it Loud 4) World Without Heroes 5) Love ‘Em and Leave Em’ 6) That one from Hotter than Hell 7) Charisma

Tears Are Falling (Asylum) A solid first round pick. In fact, listening to it now, it doesn’t really sound like any other KISS song from the era. It’s almost alternative hard rock. The Cult could have put it on the LOVE record and it would have sounded at home. Pretty amazing this was the lead single from an 80’s KISS record. Sublime is a word rarely used to describe a KISS song though I would use it here if it means what I think it means.

Along those lines, Asylum as a whole ages pretty well. Truth be told, before revisiting the entire Unmasked era for this draft, I would have called this my favorite album of that period. It still sounds good and I don’t hate the album art as much as everybody else. And I liked the big KISS sign they used on that tour though not much footage of it exists for whatever reason.

Un - Unmasked Live version

I’m Alive (Asylum) - I like this song more now than I did as a young man. Kind of fresh and different. It certainly “kicks” as they say. Too bad Eric Carr didn’t get more of a chance to contribute to the band. I’m sure Gene and Paul were hesitant to unleash another Catman or Vinnie Vincent but seems like they left some potential on the bench with the fox.

Let’s Put the X in Sex (Smashes Thrashes and Hits)  OK. I never planned on having this song for obvious reasons but once staring at my choices in the 8th round I decided it would be way more fun to have the X than not have it. I already had Crazy Nights and Forever so who was I kidding? For all its flaws, it’s kind of groovy. And even better, I own the video rights which you get to enjoy…...right……… NOW!      FYI - this video has 5,617,122 views. More than all the Decemberists videos combined. For what that is worth.

Secretly Cruel (Asylum)  In retrospect this was a reach at six. I was feeling pressure to get enough decent Gene songs and panicked. My pain was eased when Matt Walters showed me the amazing video to this song done by the band Double Virgo. They (He?) takes modern KISS songs and recuts them as if they were recorded for Dressed to Kill. And films a video too. It’s completely amazing and it saves this pick. Enjoy!

Geez. I should have called this record Asylum Resurrected. What is my problem ?

The Street Giveth and the Street Taketh Away (Hot in the Shade) - Some of those late HITS songs are sneaky good. I can live with this in the 11th round.

Summary: Looking at this now. My draft looks like a guy who got drunk and drafted all 1st basemen and closers.

Hot in the Shade  4 songs

Crazy Nights  3 songs

Asylum 3 songs

Revenge 1 song

Smashes 1 - song

Ugh. If you would have told me before the draft this is where my songs would come from I would have assumed a my record only got released on 8 track in Brazil but it’s a testimony to KISS how strong Master Blaster is. I like this record. And now I’m going to crank it up!! 

Colin Gawel plays in Watershed and The League Bowlers. He founded Pencilstorm while working at Colin's Coffee and really thought his idea for the KISS Unmasked Fantasy Draft would make him famous and get him invited VIP to the KISS expo in Indianapolis. He was wrong. None of that happened but his is going to Indy anyway. 


Corona's Covers For a Cure Saturday @ Big Room Bar - by Ricki C.

The second annual Corona’s Covers For a Cure benefit show will take place at CD 102.5’s Big Room Bar this Saturday, March 10th, beginning at 4 pm, and running ‘til eleven (or thereabouts, you know how these multi-band extravaganzas go).  Full details and a rough running order of the local artists performing can be found at Corona’s Covers For a Cure.

The basic premise and set-up of the show is simple, but profound: local Columbus bands & solo rockers play cover songs by bands or solo artists who died of cancer, thereby keeping those songs from being lost to live performance.  This show is really close to my heart.  I first heard about last March’s inaugural show while driving away from one of my sister Dianne’s chemotherapy sessions at the Zangmeister Cancer Center.  That CD 102.5 ad – local artists playing songs lost to cancer – seemed like a perfect fit for me.  “Hey, I know songs by The Velvet Underground,” I said out loud to myself in the car, and when I got home I set about trying to cadge my way onto the bill.  I felt like I owed it to the doctors, nurses & technicians who were caring for Dianne.  

Somewhere along the way Colin’s band The League Bowlers also became involved in the benefit.  The show went great, the guys & girls from Corona were truly friendly & caring and the benefit raised thousands for cancer research.  Colin & I asked if they were going to repeat the benefit in 2018 and the Corona & CD 102.5 crews said they hoped so.  We asked them to keep us in mind for a repeat appearance.

And now comes the downside: in the year that has transpired since that show my sister died of the cancer she was in treatment for when I played that first benefit.  Further, Mike Parks – the genius lead guitarist of The League Bowlers – ALSO died of a cancer that hadn’t even been DIAGNOSED when the Bowlers played the benefit.  (Click here to read Pencilstorm Remembers Mike Parks)

At one point in Colin’s e-mail when he asked me to write this story for Pencilstorm, he used the phrase “if that ain’t evidence that cancer is a mean son of a bitch I don’t know what is.”  (And Colin should know, he lost his beloved mom to cancer more than 20 years ago.)  He’s exactly, precisely right: cancer is a mean son of a bitch and I’m asking you to come out this Saturday to show your support – with your money and your hearts & minds – to fund research to show cancer that we’re meaner sons of bitches than it is.  - Ricki C. / March 8, 2018   

Ohio County Trippin' Part Seven: Sandusky County - by Nick Taggart

County Trippin’ Part Seven: SANDUSKY COUNTY  by Nick Taggart

Previous County Trippin' from Nick Taggart: Meigs County - Medina County - Champaign County - Seneca County - Cuyahoga County - Fayette County -

“Hayes-y Shade of Winter” - 3-4 February 2018

If I’d been looking for an omen to foretell our weekend, I probably couldn’t have produced a better one than the bald eagle that flew over us shortly after our arrival in Sandusky County. We’d just entered from the south along State Route 53 and had turned onto Gillmore Road to look for the one and only covered bridge in the county.

The Mull Road Covered Bridge has been providing access over the east branch of Wolf Creek since 1851.  Its Town Truss construction is named for Ithiel Town, of Connecticut, who created the lattice design in 1820.  The Mull Bridge has been closed to vehicular traffic since 1962, but thanks to a 2015 restoration, its access for pedestrians should continue for years to come.  We stepped out into a nippy 25 degree winter morning and strolled under the bridge’s rounded arch entrance.  Up close, one can see the wooden pegs that hold the planks together (as well as the ubiquitous graffiti -- I wonder if “Ryan + Mell” are still an item).  If the glassy ice below the 100-foot long red bridge hadn’t been enough to create a quaint rural image, the soaring bald eagle completed the picture.  If we’d been driving a large pickup truck, one might have mistaken the scene for a car commercial.

Returning to State Route 53, we immediately turned into Wolf Creek Park, one of the many gems maintained by the Sandusky County Park District.  The wooded park fills the space between the state route and the Sandusky River.  During the summer, a primitive camp site is available.  We made use of a mile and a half loop trail to stretch our morning legs.  Since it was winter, the trees were bare of leaves, but the plethora of walnuts and black locust seed pods scattered about the path allowed easy tree identification.  

On our hike north, we came quite close to a black and white chickadee who was too busy jumping from branch to branch to notice our approach.  Above us, the glint of color on its tail feathers, identified a red-tailed hawk.  The trail that led us back to the parking lot also serves as a section of the Buckeye Trail, the 1,444-mile footpath that loops through 40 of the state’s 88 counties.  Now, when the subject of the trans-Ohio trail comes up at dinner parties – as it so often does – I can casually mention my own experience of walking a section of it, but not wanting to dominate the conversation, I won’t go into detail about how long, or short, that section might have been.

Back in our car, we continued north on South River Road, hugging the Sandusky River.  We passed the Tindall Bridge, a tall, blue steel structure that was constructed across the river in 1915 to replace a previous span that had been destroyed in the Flood of 1913.  At the bend in the river near Greensburg Pike, chunks of large spiky ice gathered, resembling something out of Superman’s Fortress of Solitude.  Whenever I doubt myself regarding traveling in winter, regretting all the bits of blooming green nature that I’m missing, I remind myself of the curious oddities that arise only when the mercury drops below freezing.

Open space gave way to residential housing as we passed into the corporation limits of Fremont, the county seat.  On a wedge of property on West Main Street, akin to the Flatiron building in Columbus, we found the AM Korner Café, a breakfast spot recommended to us by our sister-in-law.  Without her personal say-so, we might have given this place a pass.  Had we done so, it would have been our loss.  The neon “Open” sign over its door gave the establishment just a hint of, "this place is for regulars and you don’t look like no regular", if you know what I mean. However, once inside the cozy close quarters, we found diners of all ages occupying the tables and an exceedingly friendly wait staff.  Most importantly though, the food was delicious!

I ordered the “Big Breakfast,” which came with two eggs (scrambled), two meats (bacon and ham), two pieces of toast, home fries, and two large pancakes.  Michele had an egg and bacon sandwich on ciabatta bread and also helped me with the pancakes, digging out bites from her side while I excavated from mine.  Before meeting in the middle, we got full.  What remained resembled what two mice might have left behind after randomly nibbling on the fried cakes.

Two blocks south of the restaurant is the Sandusky County Courthouse, the third oldest continuously used courthouse in the state.  (I suppose you’re going to ask me what the two oldest ones are?  Well, they’re Highland and Medina, if you must know!)  Its original construction took place between 1840-1844, back when Fremont was still known by its original name, Lower Sandusky. An expansion in the 1930s altered its footprint, dramatically changing its appearance.  Six original wooden columns were replaced with eighteen rounded sandstone pillars, and its cupola was moved to a newly constructed wing.  Its Greek Revival façade is still classically handsome.

We left Fremont behind for the moment and drove southeast down U.S. Route 20 to the city of Clyde.  There’s no mistaking its tax base as we passed the long expanse of the Whirlpool plant.  The company has been manufacturing washing machines there ever since it bought the Clyde Porcelain Steel Company in 1952.  Two years later, they purchased the adjacent Bendix Corporation that had been producing belt-driven washing machines.  Ever since, Whirlpool has been an important and generous employer.  The company’s 3000 workers make 20,000 washers a day, five days a week, in its 2.4 million-square foot facility.

To learn a little more about the city, we stopped by the Clyde Museum on West Buckeye Street.  The museum was established in 1932, but it wasn’t until 1987 that it moved into its present location, the former Grace Episcopal Church.  A garage annex and meeting room addition have since been added.  

For being a relatively small city – population around 6,200 --  Clyde has quite the history.  Special exhibits are devoted to writer Sherwood Anderson, author of Winesburg, Ohio, who spent his formative years in Clyde; and to Major General James Birdseye McPherson, the highest ranking officer to be killed in action during the Civil War.  Also on display is a 1904 Elmore “Doctor’s Runabout” Car, built by the Elmore Manufacturing Company that built bicycles and automobiles in Clyde between 1893-1912.

A couple blocks down Buckeye Street from the museum is the gorgeous Clyde Public Library, constructed of multicolored Sandusky granite and sandstone.  A red-tiled dome tops a round reading room.  The library was built in 1906 thanks to a $10,000 donation by Andrew Carnegie.

On our way out of town, we paid our respects at the McPherson Cemetery. General McPherson’s final resting place is on a hill near the entrance, circled by cannons and topped with a statue of the General who appears in a jaunty pose pointing westward.  The cemetery also contains the graves of two Congressional Medal of Honor recipients and a United States Navy sailor who holds the dubious distinction of being the first native born American to be killed in the Spanish-American War.

We drove north among the flat farm fields of County Road 260 until we found a patch of wooded wetland named the Blue Heron Reserve.  If you’ve ever given money to the Nature Conservancy and wondered what they did with your money besides produce cloth bags containing unattractive pictures of birds, you’ll be happy to know you are partially responsible for this spot of reclaimed wetlands.  The area was acquired by the Nature Conservancy and a Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund Grant and is maintained by the Sandusky County Park District.  The 160-acre reserve provides a boardwalk constructed of 100% recycled materials so visitors won’t have to worry about sinking into a spring or fen while hiking around its meadows and woodlands.  We did a quick stroll around the half mile East Meadow loop.  The sky was still overcast and the wind had kicked up a bit, so we didn’t tarry.

We returned to Fremont via U.S. Route 6 and connected to U.S. Route 20, but this time we turned northwest.  At Ohio Route 590, we turned north and pulled in at Creek Bend Farm, a recently acquired property that the Park District hopes to restore to a working farm demonstrating techniques from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s.  The grounds are also home to the Wilson Nature Center where all manner of stuffed birds, animal pelts, and live turtles and snakes are on display.  There’s also a resident rabbit named Nibbles who has the run of the place.  The Center provided us with a pleasant and educational respite.

The park is located just beyond the southern boundary of the village of Lindsey, well marked by its big blue water tower.  We drove through the small town and then exited to the west along Knipp Road…just because we like to say, “nip.”  We performed a zigzag maneuver on Hessville Road, Blue Heron Road, and Waggoner Road.  We passed a farmhouse with chickens pecking at the ground around a llama whose bunched up winter fleece made it look as though it were modeling 1970s leg warmers and Ugg Boots.

Back on U.S. Route 20, we continued to the village of Woodville.  The community would like outsiders to know it as the “Lime Center of the World” for its history of lime production dating back to before the Civil War.  It claims that all its citizens are directly or indirectly connected with the lime plants.  (By the way, I’m speaking of the alkaline substance, not the citrus fruit that goes so well with a gin and tonic.)  Village elders can boast all they want regarding the local industry, but many visitors come to know the village as a SPEEDTRAP! (You’ve been warned.)  The speed limit dramatically drops to a ridiculously slow tortoise speed of 25 mph in a most unlikely spot, catching unsuspecting drivers and filling the village coffers, as my sister-in-law – now, $90 poorer – can attest.

It seemed appropriate then that we should stop for a late afternoon snack at the appropriately named Speedtrap Diner, located on the eastern edge of town.  If you’re coming from the east, the red, white, and black police cruiser parked on the roof of the building might warn motorists to slow down.  If you’re coming from the west, well, it’s too late.

Inside, the walls are decorated with license plates, vinyl albums, and stickers. Diners are welcome to use markers to scribble their own messages.  Michele refreshed herself with a butterscotch sundae while I opted for a hot dog and a Buckeye milkshake.  The diner’s front window sports the message, “Cool people eat here.”  Who am I to disagree?

Not wanting to risk a traffic violation, we drove away from Woodville south on Anderson Road for about four miles.  Just beyond the intersection with U.S. Route 6 sits the first fruits of the Sandusky County Convention & Visitors Bureau-sponsored historic barn mural project.  In the fall of 2016, after a review of designs and barns, Scott Hagan was commissioned to paint a 9/11 Public Safety Service Memorial mural.  Hagan gained fame as the painter of Ohio’s Bicentennial Barns.  David Thornbury, a graphic designer and marketing specialist for the SCCVB designed the mural.  Tribute is paid to two people with Sandusky County connections: Teresa Martin-Miller, of Woodville, who was killed on 9/11 when the plane struck the Pentagon; and Georgine Rose Corrigon, a native of Woodville, who was on Flight 93 that crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

The barn was selected because of its proximity to our next destination, Gibsonburg, just two miles to the east.  Just as Hagan was putting the finishing touches on the barn on the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, Gibsonburg was dedicating its own Public Safety Service Memorial, in the town’s Williams Park.  The centerpiece of the memorial was a bent and twisted section of antenna that used to top the North Tower of the World Trade Center.  It measures nearly 36 feet long and weighs 7,000 pounds.  The park is also home to the North Coast Veterans Museum and Reflection Wall as well as a United States Air Force jet.  It is all a reminder of how “world events” can affect a seemingly remote village.

Gibsonburg is a good spot for a memorial that reflects resiliency.  The village was only 15 years old when a fire struck in 1895 and destroyed the entire north side of its Madison Street business district.  Then, two years after the community rebuilt, another fire struck, this time destroying the entire south side of the street.  Again the town rebuilt.  I’m not sure if that’s a sign of fierce determination in overcoming adversity or a stubborn insistence against “taking a hint.”  I suppose it’s the former since Gibsonburg is still here over a century later.

We returned to Route 20 at Hessville and followed the county-bisecting thoroughfare southeast through Fremont and Clyde before stopping in Bellevue.  Our night’s accommodation was the beautiful Victorian Tudor Inn, a gorgeous old home that was converted into a bed & breakfast nine years ago by Richard Stegman, a native of Bellevue who returned to his home town after 30 years as an administrator and dean in higher education.  Much like his house, Stegman exuded charm and cordiality as he greeted us at the door and led us to the Nautica Suite on the second floor.  According to the website, “This magnificent suite, artfully color and theme coordinated, is named in recognition of Bellevue's location to Lake Erie and the many years spent by the owner in Rhode Island.”  We practically had to get a running start to get up onto the queen size carved mahogany four-poster bed.  A spacious bathroom containing a shower and two-person Jacuzzi was located across a private foyer.  Call it what you will, but sometimes a person just wants to be pampered!

We took a late afternoon siesta before returning to Fremont for dinner.  Again, we took our sister-in-law’s recommendation for a restaurant, one that had just opened the previous fall.  We made a 7:00 pm reservation at Scarpetta’s Italian on South Front Street and invited Michele’s parents from Tiffin, and her brother and sister-in-law from Huron, to join us.  The food was good, but a moderately long wait between our starters and our entrees coupled with one or two dishes that arrived less than hot hinted at a few kinks still waiting to be worked out.  The tables were filled with diners when we arrived, so the locals seem to have taken to this new dining option.  

After an enjoyable family dinner and best wishes for a safe drive home, Michele and I returned to our Nautica Suite for a relaxing evening.

The forecast called for a chance of ice and snow overnight, so we weren’t sure what to expect, especially as we drifted off to sleep to the sound of ferocious wind gusts.

The wind had died down by the time we awoke the following morning.  Sporadic traffic on Route 20 and the distant whistles of trains were the only sounds.  A light coating of snow had begun sticking to the roads.  

We descended to the first floor dining room at 9:30 am for our prearranged breakfast.  Richard had fresh ground coffee awaiting our arrival.  Fruit bowls were followed by ham and cheese omelets, local bacon, sausage patties, and bread from a local bakery for toast.  After a little light conversational dancing, we discovered Richard shared our wing of political views, which led to a long and enjoyable bitch session regarding the current administration.  It wasn’t until noon that we were packed up and on the road.

By that time, temperatures had risen enough that whatever snow flurries had fallen had also melted.  We returned to Fremont and parked along South Arch Street next to the Birchard Public Library.  The library hadn’t opened yet, but we were more interested in “Old Betsy” sitting out on the lawn.  No, she’s not a “loveable” old eccentric who hangs out at public buildings and tells strangers about her dead dog, but rather an historic black cannon that was used to defend Fort Stephenson during the War of 1812.

Fort Stephenson was the last fort in Ohio to be attacked and was situated on the grounds of the current public library.  The site had previously served as an important trading point due to its location next to the Sandusky River.  Boats from Lake Erie could navigate this far up the river, thus providing a significant transfer point between Detroit and Pittsburgh.

Construction of a fort covering an acre of land and surrounded by 10-foot high stockade walls was completed in January of 1813.  By late July, as enemy forces infested the vicinity, it was determined the fort couldn’t be adequately defended, so it was ordered to be burned and abandoned.  Unfortunately, the order came too late and 21-year old commanding officer Major George Croghan determined it would be best to stay and fight rather than risk being wiped out by a superior force on open ground.

Croghan had only about 160 men under his command when the fort was attacked by a force of British and Native American troops numbering at least 3200.  Old Betsy was the only cannon at Croghan’s disposal, so he fired it from various positions around the fort giving the British the impression he had numerous cannons.  The British artillery failed to breach the walls of the fort and then, in a direct attack, Old Betsy provided a devastating defense that resulted in the siege being abandoned.  The British had suffered over 100 casualties while the Americans had only one man killed and seven wounded.

Less than a mile away from that historical spot sits another on a 25-acre triangular piece of land.  It’s now officially known as the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museums, but back when the former president lived there, it was called Spiegel Grove.  Spiegel, the German word for mirror, references the reflection of the sky on the puddles formed under the tall trees after a storm.   

The estate was originally purchased by Hayes’s maternal uncle and guardian, Sardis Birchard, a savvy businessman and lifelong bachelor who intended the property pass to Hayes and his heirs.  Construction on the original two-story, eight bedroom brick home began in 1859.  It was added onto and remodeled throughout the following half century. It is now a 31-room mansion painstakingly restored to reflect the time period during which Hayes and his family lived there following his presidency.

Tours of the house are given every half hour and are said to last approximately 45 minutes.  We were the only ones there for the 1:00 pm tour so our docent Jim provided a thorough and interesting tour that lasted well over an hour.  We learned  much about the 19th President, although I must admit, my knowledge was pretty sketchy to begin with.  Pretty much everything I knew, I learned from the Great Plains song, “Rutherford B. Hayes,” which, while a good song, plays fast and loose with the facts and confuses its Ohio presidents.  It turns out that Rutherford B. Hayes was NOT the grandfather of Woody Hayes, nor was he shot by an anarchist.  It was William McKinley who was downed by an assassin’s bullet.  Ron House, you have a lot to answer for!

After the tour, we strolled under a light rainy mist to the President’s grave.  He and his wife Lucy are entombed below a large granite stone.  Their second eldest son, Webb C. Hayes and his wife Mary are also buried within the fenced-off area.  It was Webb who, shortly after President Hayes’s death in 1893, deeded Spiegel Grove to the state of Ohio and his father’s personal papers and possessions to the Ohio History Connection, thus creating America’s first presidential library.

We returned on a paved walkway, past a group of the chunkiest fox squirrels you’ve ever seen who don’t think twice about brazenly confronting visitors, and entered the museum where we learned more about Hayes’s election to the presidency.  If you thought the hanging chads of the 2000 election were something to behold, read up on the 1876 contest where Republican Hayes won by one electoral vote after disputes involving opposing electoral voters in several states resulted in the formation of special commissions to make the final decision.  Oh, by the way, all the commissions just so happened to consist of seven Democratic representatives and eight Republican representatives.  Can you guess how they voted?  

Despite the spurious result, I think Hayes turned out to be a decent president, one that Ohioans can take some moderate pride in.  That was my takeaway anyway.  Before his presidency, he served as governor of Ohio where he backed the creation of a land grant college that eventually became The Ohio State University, so to all the Buckeye alumni, The Ghost of Presidents Past says, “You’re welcome!”

Along with exhibits detailing the life of the president and first lady, the museum makes room for temporary exhibits.  We were fascinated with one regarding the ice harvesting industry on Lake Erie during the 19th and early 20th Centuries.  (No, really, we were!  I swear, it was a lot more interesting than it sounds!)

No museum stop is complete without a visit to the gift shop where I picked up a sticker and Hayes Presidential Library & Museums pen.  Also available were candles from the Cleveland Candle Co.  Unique Hayes-centric scents included “The Beard,” in honor of Rutherford’s impressive growth of facial hair, and “Purple Hayes.”

With brains bulging with new found presidential knowledge, we drove down Buckland Avenue to Greensburg Pike Road and over to Route 53, where we crossed the county line under an overcast Sandusky County sky.

Time spent in the county: 31 hours, 58 minutes          Miles driven in the county: 145 miles





The League Bowlers on CD102.5 and Now Available Everywhere

If you have been tuning in or streaming CD1025 lately, you might have noticed a little tune by The League Bowlers slipping into the rotation. That's right, the song "She's My Inspiration" is on the charts with a bullet. You can help by texting: Request League Bowlers to 68683; or tweet @cd1025fm; or go old-school and call 614-221-1025. Our pal Maggie at WCBE has been mixing in some tracks too, so check that out. 

Along those lines, another way you can help is listening to the League Bowlers on Spotify, Youtube, I-Tunes  or wherever you get your music. Put us on your playlist. Share it with a friend. Post on facebook. Request us on Outlaw Country and Underground Garage. Every little bit helps. Thanking you in advance - Colin