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.

21272573_1653373171363790_5384306685006980464_n

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.

hatfields_and_mccoys.jpg

 

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?

 

Advertisements

Over 40 Fashion Sense…eh…screw it

Fashion Sense?  Mine is…well….hmmmm…..

It’s not that I don’t care what I look like on a daily basis. It’s more or less lack of time. It’s just easier to clip my hair up and throw on whatever I bothered to throw in the wash. Did I mention I have children?!? And honestly, I love them all dearly…truly I do… but how do I find the time for anything, let alone dressing up?

If you’re over 40, you know the struggle. Everything takes longer. It’s not as simple as it used to be. And 90% of the time, I’m driving kids from point A to point B. I’d make a fortune as a taxi service, if I started charging my kids for services. Add my job to the mix and forget about it! Zero time.

I mean …I’m currently writing this at 11:18 PM just so I can be alone for 10 minutes! 

I-m-in-a-dark-place-right-now-Not-emotionally-just.jpeg

Basically…it’s just too much work to bother.. My hair is thinner now …

I am 41.

Did I forget to mention that?

Essentially, I have to ‘fake it’ with my hair. This typically requires curling and teasing, then a lifting spray. My hairs rather long, so it can be hard to get a decent lift. I have cut it in the past, but I hated it! Mostly because I couldn’t just throw it in a bun anymore. Styling takes time. I believe we have established…I have none. And just this year, I started finding  WHITE HAIRS! No…really….ugh. I pulled them out, but it was no use. The bastards grew back. You can’t really see them, but I assure you…

they’re still fricken there!

And my face….well….what do I not have to complain about here???

  • dry skin
  • age spots
  • crows feet
  • those weird forehead wrinkles…crap I hate those things!!!!
  • yellow bumps from skin damage…on my EYEBALLS! It’s called Pinguecula
  • receding gums…it’s mild, but it’s there
  • dark circles…ugh…just shoot me
  • red blemishes just below my neck…again…too much sun

Basically…a boat load of spackle is required, and I flat out don’t feel like dealing with it. I don’t want to deal with primers and foundations (and I don’t really give a shit how light and fluffy it is advertised to be)… glosses, mascara, powders and shadows. I’m not trying to go all ‘Rembrandt’  first thing in the morning. It’s hard enough to find the time to drink my required two gallons of coffee  just to function!.

As far as clothing goes…ugh…here we go again….

  • I’m thin…but…I’m saggy, so not proportioned.
  • My butt has either morphed or melted into the back of my upper thighs. Belts are now required!!!

56408829.jpg

  • Where in the name of  Zeus’s pie-hole… did my boobs go?!?! And why do they feel the need to hide in my armpits when I’m laying down?!?! WHY????

wonderbra

  • Veins…seriously….do I really need to elaborate here?
  • Feet…ugh..ok…four kids in and flat as the earth is wide. “Forget about it” <—this must be said in a strong Italian accent. 
  • It’s not that I have a gut. It’s that I have no lift. Because if I push my boobs up to their proper location…my stomach is flat as a board. Some of you will totally get what I mean. (This also works with my butt…my thighs basically fade away if I yank my butt up to it’s proper place…not that I’m running around yanking on my butt or anything…maybe). 

I mean …

why bother???

And did I mention the popping sounds? Yes…crap just pops for any reason at all. Standing up? Pop. Sitting down? Pop. Walking? Pop. Bending over? Pop. Everything pops…every-fricken-thing. 

And I haven’t even hit menopause yet?!?!

WTF will that be like?!?!?!

  • hot flashes?
  • mood swings?
  • weird hair growth locations?
  • Dammit….is this a cocka-may-mee mood swing?!?!?

Whatever…you know…I intended for this to be a post about  Fashion Over 40. As in; hot spring clothing trends and hairstyles. 

But now I just want a cookie and a glass of wine. (Wait…wine just means I’ll have to pee again in two minutes. I think I’ll try to keep the peeing at my usual 5 minute intervals tonight).

c0a9e929acea02a0bf40353429bddbe5.jpg

Just because it’s hilarious…

This was at Tower City in Cleveland, Ohio. Included are photos of the Cleveland Public Square Ice-Skating Rink. But the true comedy was the Choo Choo Train.

As a giant toddler at heart, I  wanted to ride the Christmas train with my kids.  My daughter is  a teenager, so I naturally had to force her. And…it went well…yeah ok. She’ll probably run away screaming the next time I ask.

Just keep replaying it…for some reason it gets funnier :D:D (For the record, that isn’t my kid in the back…I have no idea whose kid it is…but the whole thing was hilarious. Just a little guy, enjoying the trip!)

…the ENTIRE trip…. Click here for the Instagram Video. It will open in a new window. WordPress may not allow the EMBED feature without premium, but I still want you guys to see it.

If you don’t see the video below, just click the link above. And keep scrolling for the pics of Tower City and the Public Square Ice-Skating Rink.

#lmao @http.courtneyyy #video @towercitycenter #christmas #train 😁😁😁😁😁 The WHOLE RIDE!

A video posted by D.s. (@homefreekids) on Nov 27, 2016 at 12:24pm

Here’s a few more pics from that amazing day….

15219382_1330680416966402_6177121513083747845_n

15253465_1330680283633082_7016486277248772688_n

She loved the view. At Christmas, Tower City is absolutely stunnin.

15202642_1330680243633086_7474602925459724049_n

Naturally, the little musician found her spot.

15253628_1330696756964768_638546311085161955_n

He was in awe of the height.

15170934_1330709936963450_6986052519718816216_n

Of course….

15241169_1330717020296075_1784890193075274081_n

Large Jawbreaker…

15871836_1381691895198587_8827310629837291307_n

Tiny Jawbreakers

15203135_1330711086963335_179160862111929135_n

15181387_1330725476961896_3846451450461880778_n

My daughter & I

15178222_1330651223635988_5520841535694799486_n

He was dancing…

15241425_1330651126969331_7677645093519228349_n

Getting their skates on.

15253484_1330650783636032_3406329810152883197_n15219367_1330650856969358_1030255569468021317_n

15895011_1381691881865255_3438002084333928756_n

Hallelujah! #coffee !!!!!

15202751_1330782070289570_9141066913531704654_n

A fabulous end to the perfect day!

 

To keep up with our travels:  #homefreekids @homefreekids