Define Family: Is It Blood Or Is It Loyalty? South Amherst, Ohio

I’m from small town America, in the true sense. And I graduated from a country school…literally…in the middle of a corn field. We even had tractor day…still do. That’s where you drive your tractor to school . Generally this was and is led by FFA. Future Farmers of America, which is a credit class offered by the school.

As a kid, it was next to impossible to just go ‘next door’ and find a friend to play with. It more or less required a phone call, a scheduled play date…and even if your buddy lived three houses away….that could be several miles down the road.

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My daughter on a morning hike.

And yet even tasked with such a feat as getting to the nearest house, there was a unity. A mindset, if you will. One where given that we were all out in the middle of nowhere….it was common sense, to help thy neighbor.

Many years ago, Firelands (my district), merged with South Amherst (the neighboring district). And we became one unit. To give you an idea of how Firelands is set up, it’s one of the largest districts in the state, with the smallest amount of students. It covers over 100 square miles. But given that it’s farm country, it’s so spaced out, it brings the actual student ratio way down.

And one thing that comes with all those fields, open space, the  occasional deer carcass  and …well….that ‘fresh’ country air…is a sense of family. Blood doesn’t even have to be part of the equation. It’s the common ground that unites people.

My dad is originally from West Virginia and my mother is from a neighboring small town in the area. Neither one has ever had an itch to live in the city. Dad grew crops and he was an electrician by trade, until he retired. He was a graduate of the South Amherst District long before the merger.  My mother worked at that country school I just mentioned. She was the counselor. They both retired a few years back. My Aunt and Uncle, live right smack in the heart of it all as well.

And way back when, I didn’t really notice what was going on around me. I was caught up in trying to find a car to get me ten miles down the road to my friends house….or a tractor…either would do. Or even Cinnamon…{that blasted batty horse that would run you straight out onto the road and under branch, just to get back to the hay}. But outside  my own little teenage thoughts, I drew a blank. I failed to notice the quiet, but insanely strong  heartbeat that echoed all around me.

Smack in the heart of South Amherst, there are two pubs. They’re directly across the street from each other. Train Wreck Tavern and Whiskeyville Still & Grill (formerly Wiley’s)…..or “The Hatfields and the McCoys”…no seriously.

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The funny thing is, while there’s always been a competition….there really isn’t…and there is….I know…weird. These aren’t your ordinary pubs. In some towns, there’s so many bars and restaurants, you’ll never see the same face twice. That might be good for a night of bar hopping, but there’s no real unity to it.

In South Amherst, these two bars...are it. There’s a couple further out into the country, still within the district and but part of the original Firelands prior to the merger. Crossroads and Czech Point; but they’re not lined up like the other two are. However, they have the same heart. When I tell you there was a tractor parked at Crossroads last month, I mean there was big fricken tractor…parked out front. And while those pubs require a further drive, the locals are more then willing to make the trek, pull up a stool and catch up on old times.   When the folks  come in to Whiskeyville and TrainWreck, they park at one and walk back and forth. As a result, there’s always been competition. And of course…..the occasional prank.

(Although…the lawn chair and work boots on the roof of Train Wreck last week…well….that was done by one of the locals….I have it narrowed down to one of two…and both have a heart of gold, a never ending supply of laughs and would give you the shirt off their backs. But they’re ornery as hell!

In a place where people are so far apart, the local pubs serve as a gathering  place. To catch up, help each other out, talk about Riddler’s baby soft fricken hair (how does he get it like that?!?!) and to share both sorrow and joy. It doesn’t seem to matter what may be going on in their own personal lives….in that momenttime stands still…they will set it all aside to be a source of comfort for friend in need. If someone had a bad day, the whole pub rallies around them. If someone needs shelter…they provide it. If someone needs a ride? It doesn’t matter if the driver’s going the opposite direction, they’ll get’em home.

I’ve seen both tears and laughter emerge on any given day. Mostly …..laughter. These are people who work their fingers to the bone. They bust their ass  and they don’t quit until the job is done. The pub floors during happy hour, typically have remnants of drywall, sawdust, roofing material, dirt and sweat. It’s blue collar America through and through. Many are Ford workers, who believe ‘Made in America’ truly means something.  These aren’t people who are looking for a free ride. These are folks who know the meaning of ‘blood, sweat and tears’.

And this is so much so…..that these folks make it a damn POINT…to go to BOTH pubs…..EACH AND EVERY TIME! Why? Loyalty to all the pub workers and friends on each side of coin. I’ve seen it time and time again. “ok….I’ll be back….gotta run across the street….don’t want the barmaid to think I forgot about her”. But they actually mean EXACTLY that, when they say it. It’s not a joke! 

At Train Wreck there’s a lovely barmaid the regulars call mom. She’s a shoulder to cry on when you need one. She watches out for basically….everyone.  A few times, the barmaids have switched bars. Like the one at Whiskeyville now, used to be across the street at Train Wreck. And whenever there’s a Poker Run, both bars are on the list.

And of course…..whenever there’s a feud ….both bars are involved. Now mind you…by feud…I mean the good old fashioned kind. The kind where folks are alive and shaking hands the next day. These men aren’t cowards. Cowards fight with guns and knifes. These folks…prefer hilarious pranks and ok…the occasional ‘duke it out’ match in the parking lot. Followed by an instant replay of the cameras the next day…just for another round of laughs. And in all honestly, it’s probably one of the safest places to hang out…anywhere! Hell, if you set your wallet on the counter at either pub and walk outside…it’s got a pub full of honest townsfolk keeping an eye on it. If you set your cell phone down though…that’s a different story. You’ll get home and find a ton of ridiculous photos in your gallery. I’m not saying that happened to Jason last week…cuz I didn’t see anything…. (Bob).  But hey…at least you’ll have something for Instagram.

There was that time that one of Whiskeyville’s barmaids took off for a few days and decided to leave her jeep in the parking lot. Of course nothing was stolen, but the guys had a grand ole time filling her car with their empty Budweiser cans while she was away. Yeah…we all know who did it….but it’s like Vegas round these parts….Brad. Actually, I think they were considering renting out the jeep as a motel for a couple days there…but that’s another story entirely.  AND EVERYONE…I mean EVERYONE knows your name. It’s like “CHEERS”….but country style….times two.

Whiskeyville is the larger of the two pubs. It has two bars, a catering hall and they serve  food. Both Whiskeyville and Train Wreck,  have outdoor patios/decks. And Whiskeyville holds a Sunday liquor license. Since the bar has recently come under new ownership, it’s getting a remodel. So they’ve added games, slots etc…while keeping the old town feel.

TrainWreck is the smaller of the two, but it has a cozy atmosphere. They also serve food and just like Whiskeyville, run  decent beer prices. Both bars have a jukebox and have live musicians etc…

Of course, both pubs have the some of the best people I’ve ever met…ready to greet you with a smile. And one thing they both have in common, besides the amazingly strong group of people that frequent them….is the revenue they have the capacity, to draw to the town. And if there is one thing the townsfolk love above all else….it’s their kids. That’s everywhere…in the heart of us all.

South Amherst Middle School sits about a half mile down the road from the pubs. And while the merger with Firelands was able to keep South Amherst school district afloat, the school buildings themselves are in serious need of repair. The South Amherst building literally has holes in the floor.

“You drive by at 35 or 40 mph, it looks fine,” he said during a tour of South Amherst Middle School, 152 W. Main St. “Come inside and I can show you a couple of things.”

Von Gunten praised school custodians for their upkeep of the 81,210-square-foot middle school built in 1910, but said it’s falling apart. The school was grandfathered in to meet fire codes, but lacks a sprinkler system and smoke detectors.

Some windows don’t open or easily stick and the building lacks air conditioning, leaving students broiling on hot days. The second floor is creaky and the hallway is too narrow for the 420 students at the school.

The cafeteria kitchen is clean, but it stank Thursday from raw sewage leaking out of rusty old pipes. Von Gunten said water in the pipes over the weekend comes out discolored from the rust. He said tests show it’s safe to drink, “but I would argue otherwise.”

Von Gunten said the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission in 2006 determined renovation wasn’t cost-effective. It said renovation would cost about $13.2 million, and replacement would cost $18.7 million.

The commission made the same determination about Firelands High School, 10643 Vermilon Road, Henrietta Township. It said the 91,400-square-foot school, built in 1954, would cost nearly $16.4 million to renovate. The school, which houses about 600 students, would cost $22.3 million to replace.

“We’re talking about buildings that are pretty much at the end of their useful life,” School Treasurer Brad McCracken told about a dozen residents who took part in the tour. “We’re struggling with the middle school and the high school.”

Von Gunten said the high school would probably be demolished. He said asbestos in the middle school would be abated and school officials would discuss with South Amherst officials whether to occupy it or raze it.

http://www.chroniclet.com/education/2015/10/30/Old-Firelands-school-buildings-falling-apart.html

 

In this village, lies the answer.

A while back, Amherst had the same problem. For those who don’t know…Amherst borders South Amherst, but they are not part of the same district.

Amherst wouldn’t approve of a merger with South Amherst way back when, so Firelands agreed to do it. (That’s that beating heart I was telling you about earlier….) And when Amherst couldn’t pull the revenue from the voters for things in need of repair,  they found it another way. They may not realize it, but they did. The Park Ave strip brings in thousands of dollars of revenue daily. And the revenue from the strip, was instrumental in restoring the city to it’s former glory. So while on multiple occasions, levy’s were voted down…the people paid regardless, just by going out and having a good time.  They paid into their own town businesses,  thereby returning money to the town.

The same idea holds true for the pubs in South Amherst. While the competition and feuds come and go….the people are a constant. They’re a given and the life’s blood of both pubs. Just like Amherst was able to do, South Amherst has the building blocks to do the same. The owners of both pubs, could in all reality, join together and create something incredible. And just like Amherst was able to do with their yearly ‘Dancing In the Street’ event, South Amherst could potentially bring in a massive revenue, by simply working together and paying back into their own town. They have the main ingredient at their disposal….the hearts and minds of some of the best people you’d ever meet….(yes…even the crazy ones….Clow…cough, cough…Seth…excuse me…had to clear my throat…lovable bastards)…in spades! 

And I use the pubs as the catalyst for the revenue, because quite simply….it’s where people gather. And I’d tack the gas station smack in the middle of town in there….if they ever actually had gas! (Could someone tell them to actually put gas…in the ground….so that fuel….can actually be pumped into the vehicles past say…3pm? ….yeah…that’d be great.) And there’s the town pizza parlor, the Karate Studio, Piggy’s and a few other places scattered throughout downtown. Of course further out, you hit all the produce stands. Homegrown and priced just right.

Over the past few months, I’ve met some extraordinary human beings. What started out as  just another simple chapter in a book….became so much more. I’ve seen true unbreakable bonds…..Sisters at heart….Faye and Sharon.  Shattered stereotypesWayne Strength through great sorrowT-Bone. A gentle soul beneath a father’s voice...Frank.  Dedication through charitable work (Don’t let him catch you throwing out those beer tabs. Those are funding Ronald McDonald House.) ….Gallagher. CommitmentLarry. Courage in the face of the unknown….Ray.  That ornery smile at just the right time...Mark……and so many more.

If just a handful, can radiate that much compassion…what can the voices of many accomplish?

It’s time pull up our big boy panties, pull together and get’er done. And….if someone could stop throwing rolls of paper towels in the toilets …yeah…that’d be great. And where are the rest of the lawn chairs from Whiskeyville?!?! Do I even want to know?

 

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HP All-In-One Desktop Computer Review

In a word: #AWESOME

Honestly, I love this thing. I’ve had many computers throughout the years. Actually, my first computer was a Commodore 64. That was back when you had to type a full page of coding just to change the font color. Everything was a process. I believe I was 9 or 10 at the time. From that point on I have lived, ate and breathed computers. Anybody recall the first chat rooms? How about avatars? You weren’t really you, but rather some hot model pulled from an ad. You just chose how perfect you wanted to be and presto change-o.

My original websites were written entirely in coding. And with each new device, more coding had to be learned. But it was like a symphony to me. Pure logic. I just had to make it fit.

So naturally, I’ve had a lot of gadgets in my life. I think one half of my brain is fully paints and easels; the other half purely gadgets and gears. And a new computer sets me in ‘kid in a candy store’ mode. Much to my sheer delight, my husband got me a new toy for Christmas this year. I was even happier when I saw the color!

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Just a few weeks prior, I was moaning about all the black cords, huge processor and overall dust pattern on the bedroom computer. Honestly…it’s an eyesore. I did however need a computer in the family room. I’m prone to late night blogging and my husband gets up at 3:30 am. Essentially, I barely used the bedroom computer and had no desire to have the clunky thing in the family room.

The HP All-In-One has ONE cord going into the wall. The other two cords are white and specifically for the keyboard and the mouse.

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The WebCam is built in….so naturally…I had to try it out….

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The keyboard and mouse are also aesthetically pleasing…

As far as speed, I’ve had zero issues. I’m a Netflix junkie and the video playback is flawless…

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(Obviously I’m correct about my brain being two halves of wacky…I can never decide between Comedy and Horror…Go figure.)

And it’s equipped with Cortana…basically she’s Siri for an HP.

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And of course, there’s plenty of help…

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It runs the Windows 10 program, which honestly, I didn’t love when it first came out. Too many issues with game play on already existing games. But they seem to have worked out the kinks and now it’s growing on me. The apps are handy and I love having instant access to my e-mail.

To be clear:  This isn’t built for major league gaming. It’s not Alienware . (I have a 17 year old son…believe me when I say, he’s insanely picky about his gaming gear. So my opinion is based on his opinion of how fast the ‘on screen’ reaction time is.)  But it is fast! I use it for internet based work and play. With the use of iCloud for easy file storage and transfer, I haven’t had an issue. Yes there’s a HUGE amount of storage, however in the past I’ve learned not to over-stuff a computer if you can help it. Homework for the kids, photos, social media, movies etc…it’s genuinely a great gadget.

Plus…yep…you can pop in a DVD!

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This one was purchased at Best Buy, so I’m going to post the specs directly from their site. I’d be here all night if I typed it all out….

And no..I’m not a paid reviewer. This is a non-paid site. If you’re paid, then you’re swayed!

This is an honest review based on my own experience with this particular computer. I pay for this domain, so technically …I’m paying to share this review with you.

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/hp-pavilion-23-8-all-in-one-intel-pentium-8gb-memory-1tb-hard-drive-hp-finish-in-snow-white/5325806.p?skuId=5325806&ref=212&loc=1&ksid=50103ab2-ddcf-4d75-829c-ea22d4cc66e1&ksprof_id=8&ksaffcode=pg199028&ksdevice=c&lsft=ref:212,loc:2

Product Features

Microsoft Windows 10 operating system

Windows 10 brings back the popular Start Menu from Windows 7 and introduces new features, like the Edge Web browser that lets you markup Web pages on your screen.Learn more ›

23.8″ Full HD LED display

Native 1920 x 1080 resolution showcases your games and HD movies with impressive color and clarity.

8GB system memory for advanced multitasking

Substantial high-bandwidth RAM to smoothly run your games and photo- and video-editing applications, as well as multiple programs and browser tabs all at once.

SuperMulti DVD/CD burner

Reads and writes to a wide variety of media formats, including DVD+R/RW, DVD-R/RW, CD-R/RW, DVD-RAM and double-layer DVD.

1TB hard drive for ample file storage space

Holds a significant collection of digital photos, music, HD videos and DVD-quality movies. 7200 rpm spindle speed enables rapid read/write times for handling large files and complex applications.

Cloud support lets you access your files anywhere

Store your photos, videos, documents and other files on Dropbox for secure access across multiple devices. Fees may apply.

Built-in webcam with two microphones

Makes it easy to video chat with family and friends or teleconference with colleagues over Skype or other popular applications.

Built-in media reader for simple photo transfer

Supports SD, SDHC and SDXC memory card formats.

2 USB 3.0 ports maximize the latest high-speed devices

Also includes 2 USB 2.0 ports to connect more accessories and peripherals. The USB 3.0 ports are backward-compatible with USB 2.0 devices (at 2.0 speeds).

Wireless and wired network connectivity

Built-in high-speed wireless LAN connects to your network on the most common Wi-Fi standards. Gigabit Ethernet LAN port plugs into wired networks.

Bluetooth 4.0 interface syncs with compatible devices

Wirelessly transfer photos, music and other media between the computer and your Bluetooth-enabled cell phone or MP3 player, or connect Bluetooth wireless accessories.

Multimedia software package included

CyberLink PowerDirector, HP Recovery Manager, HP Support Assistant, HP Games Powered by WildTangent, Netflix, Snapfish.

Additional ports

Microphone and headphone jacks.

Intel, Pentium, Celeron, Core, Atom, Ultrabook, Intel Inside and the Intel Inside logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries.

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That’s about for it now. I honestly have no cons to this gadget. Typically I have an entire list of whimpering and whining, but nothing comes to mind as of yet. That could change a few months from, but for right now….TWO THUMBS UP!