Fear Is Very Scary

sputniknamOn the day following this year’s elections I arrived in Los Angeles to attend a Route 66 conference. Los Angeles was one of the cities where people, predominantly college aged, took to the street to express their displeasure with the results. They were nowhere near where I was staying and at first I thought them just silly. As reports of scattered violence and destruction came in I begin the see them as counter productive or worse. On Thursday I was in the back seat of a car rerouted by police because protesters were blocking our original path. Protests continued through the weekend and I saw some of the participants on a couple of occasions. It was seeing a group of them arrive downtown on Saturday that planted the seed for this article. To be accurate, it wasn’t the sight of the protesters that planted the seed, it was something one of “my people”, the Route 66 enthusiasts, said that did it.

Two conference related events, a breakfast and a tour, were planned for Saturday morning. They were not conflicting but both had limited capacity. Some had signed on early enough to be included in both. Others had not. I was part of the breakfast only group. Following breakfast, as we headed for the train to return to our motel, the train carrying the tour only group arrived. A fairly large number of protesters were on the same train. The two groups of 66ers exchanged greetings and the tour only folks made a couple of comments about riding the train with the protesters. “They’re just really scared,” someone said.

cumissmapA few days later I was in San Diego touring a collection of ships maintained there by the Maritime Museum. One was a Soviet submarine of the type that came quite close to North America during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Audio and video recordings are used to give some sense of what things were like during that crisis. I have strong memories of my own. I was a high school sophomore and remember being seriously scared during those tense days in October 1962. It wasn’t a horror movie scared or a sudden loud noise scared or a that car’s coming at me scared. It was so much bigger and longer lasting and simultaneously unimaginable and imagination driving. Maybe it was the kind of scared that some of those kids with the signs were feeling.

It wasn’t the first time I’d felt that kind of scared. The first was in 1957 when Sputnik I was launched. I was ten and personally thought it one of the coolest things ever. But I began to sense real concern in my parents. Barely a decade had passed since World War II ended plus many were far from certain that the fighting in Korea was really over. Now our nation’s greatest enemy had an object crossing our borders and passing over our heads on a regular basis. The two huge oceans on our coasts simply weren’t big enough to protect us anymore. At the time I didn’t completely understand their fear but I was very aware of it and shared it just a little. The picture at the top of this article is one I took a few years ago at the Armstrong Air & Space Museum. A full size replica of Sputnik I hangs from the ceiling. When the real one flew overhead, I looked a lot like the young Neil Armstrong in the framed photo at lower right and the TV I saw the news on looked almost identical to the one he’s standing next to.

I still thought of Sputnik more as a human accomplishment than a Soviet threat but my innocence was chipped. By the time missiles were discovered in Cuba just five years later, phrases like “Soviet threat”, “nuclear war,” and “mutual assured destruction” were all too familiar and the fear I felt as Kennedy and Khrushchev bluffed and bartered was my own and it was real. Thirteen months later, Kennedy was dead.

nytkaI’ve sometimes said that the Cuban Missile Crisis was the scariest time of my life and that’s true in the sense that there was a very real possibility that the world would be completely destroyed before Walter Cronkite even had time to announce it. But in other ways, the fear that followed Kennedy’s assassination was probably worse. Until it was proven otherwise, it was natural to assume that it was the work of our Cold War adversaries. Flying a silver ball over our cornfields was intimidating and pointing loaded rockets our way was a clear threat but eliminating our leader was the real thing. If the USSR had a hand in the assassination then the Cold War wasn’t very cold anymore. What would be our response? What would be their next step?

In hindsight I think that what happened after the president was killed was actually reaffirming. There were bumps and missteps and unanswerable questions and even today the word conspiracy is usually lurking nearby when the words Kennedy assassination are used but the rules basically worked and the United States of America survived and continued on it’s often lurching but generally hopeful path.

wdem681968 was the first election I was old enough to participate in and there are indeed some similarities between it and the one just past. Then many wanted McCarthy or McGovern but got Humphrey. This year many wanted Sanders but got Clinton. Humphrey and Clinton both lost and maybe for some of the same reasons. I suspect it’s a much older joke but I first heard it applied to the 1968 victor. “If Nixon ran unopposed he’d have lost.” It’s possible the same thing could be said this year regardless of whether it was Trump of Clinton who came out on top. I believe I heard just as many people proclaim who they were voting against as who they were voting for, The convention that nominated Humphrey was preceded by the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy and accompanied by police violence directed at protesters. The latter was, to me, the most frightening occurrence of a very frightening year. Things aren’t the same today but they’re not entirely different either.

Although our perspectives can’t possibly be the same, some of those LA protesters and I share memories of the incredibly frightening events of September 11, 2001. I know I had many of the same fears and questions then as I had back in 1963 when President Kennedy was shot. Maybe they, at least the oldest among them, did too. But I doubt their 2016 fears have the same relationship to their 2001 fears as my 1968 fears had to my fears of 1963. I doubt even more that their fears are very much like mine. I cannot, in fact, claim to even understand or appreciate all of their fears.

I may have started writing this because of those sign carrying California kids but I did not write it for them. The chances of any of them even seeing this article are pretty much nil. No, I wrote it for me. There is a certain amount of John Barth scriptotherapy involved where the mere act of writing is therapeutic and there is no question that putting words into a structure makes your thoughts a little more structured as well. But I think the main reason was to remind myself that I’ve seen the world survive some pretty deep piles of doo doo in the past. Today’s doo doo is different and may even be deeper in spots but history suggests that there’s a pretty good chance that the world will survive it too.


As would any Cincinnatian around my age constructing a title with the word “fear” in it, I seriously considered simply stealing the title of the Raisins’ 1983 regional hit song. Even though I ultimately decided it wasn’t entirely appropriate, revisiting the song convinced me that anyone who hasn’t heard it needs to and anyone who has wants to. Here you go:
Fear Is Never Boring

Eleven Eleven

nov11Friday’s date was eleven eleven. I spent the day at the 2016 Los Angeles Route 66 Festival where the ninetieth anniversary of Route 66 was celebrated. November 11, 1926, was when the United States Numbered Highway System was officially approved so US 66 did indeed come into being on that date but so did another 188 routes. I’ve always thought the big deal some folks make of Sixty-Six’s “birthday” to be somewhere between silly and chauvinistic. Sort of like New Hampshire celebrating its independence — and only its own independence — on the Fourth of July.

I try not to let it bother me. Route 66 has become the most famous member of that class of ’26 and it’s rather doubtful that a birthday party held for any of the others would draw much of a crowd. That doesn’t mean they should be totally ignored, however. For my part, I wished some of my homies, like US 22 and US 36, a happy 90th too. They were “born” the same day as US 66 and are among those that still survive ninety years later. Officially US 66 does not. It didn’t quite make it to fifty-nine. A date that US 66 has all to itself is June 27, 1985, the day it was decommissioned.

nov11bThere is no question that November 11, 1926, is an important day for road fans. It really is a sort of “The king is dead. Long live the king.” moment as the birth of the US Numbered Highways meant the death of named auto trails. They did not instantly vanish, of course. Some of their support organizations continued on for a few years and the Lincoln Highway and National Old Trails Road associations managed to erect long lasting roadside monuments well after the numbered highways took over. Establishing the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 on June 29 was a somewhat similar event but a significant difference is that, while the act authorized construction of limited-access interstate highways that were more efficient than the existing US Numbered Highways, it didn’t replace the existing system or directly eliminate any of the routes. November 11, 1926, is a unique delimiter in US transportation history that is as notable for what it ended as for what it started.

nov11aBut November 11 was an actual national holiday well ahead of the creation of the United States Numbered Highway System and it marked something more meaningful than identifying one nation’s roads. When I started to school in 1953, November 11 was known as Armistice Day. During the next year, the name was officially changed to Veterans Day although people around me didn’t start using the new name immediately. Nor did they immediately embrace the new definition. Armistice Day marked the anniversary of the end of The Great War on November 11, 1918. It began in England but soon spread to virtually all the allied nations. Two minutes of silence — one minute to remember the 20 million who died in the war and a second minute to remember those left behind — at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month was an important part of the day. Things started changing when the world had another “great war” and had to start numbering them. England and many other nations changed the name to Remembrance Day to include those lost in both conflicts and, as I mentioned, the United States changed the name to Veterans Day. This may be when we began observing a single minute of silence on the day or maybe it was always that way in the US. We observed one minute of silence at the festival.

Veterans Day really is different from Remembrance Day. The US already had a day for honoring those killed by war. The country’s Civil War had given rise to Decoration Day which was eventually renamed Memorial Day and became a day to honor all persons who died while in the military. Many people seem to have great difficulty understanding or at least remembering the difference in these two holidays. It’s not terribly harmful, I suppose, but running around on Memorial Day and thanking the living for their service does show a lack of understanding and detracts from the sacrifices the day is intended to honor. So does using the day to recognize all of our dead regardless of whether they even served in the military let alone if they died in that service.


And just one more thing, ‘leven ‘leven, as she learned to say very early, is also my daughter’s birthday. It’s a date she shares with Demi Moore and Leonardo DiCaprio among others. I know Meg doesn’t want to appear the least bit presumptuous so if Leo or Demi want some help with the candles next year, I’m pretty sure she’d be willing.

The Fourth Five

dav5ktulsaBecause the previous DAV 5K events have been covered in blog posts it seems only proper that the fourth one is covered, too. Plus I’ve decided to post it on election day when most folks could probably use a good chuckle. I trimmed fifty seconds off of last year’s time to finish in 1:03:36. I’m just not built for speed.

There were 390 finishers in Tulsa with a top time of 18:38. Apparently there are no awards for 373rd place.

The Brewery’s Neighboring Neighborhood

hufftour01Last December I took a tour of decorated homes in Dayton. Those homes were in the Saint Anne’s Hill Historic District where Fifth Street Brewpub is located and they were decorated for Christmas. On Friday evening I toured some homes in a nearby neighborhood that were decorated for a nearby holiday. The holiday was Halloween. The neighborhood was Historic Huffman. Like Saint Anne’s Hill, the Huffman district was once in decline and is experiencing a come back with the restoration of many deteriorating homes. Seven houses took part in this year’s Spirit of Huffman Tour. There are photos here of the three most Halloweenish.

hufftour02hufftour03hufftour04For the first home we visited, the tour is not so much a call to decorate as an oppertunity for the owner to display his incredible collection of Halloween related items. Those shown here are just a tiny portion.

hufftour07hufftour06hufftour05This is one of the “works in process” on the tour. A Dayton ordinance allows individuals to initiate foreclosure proceedings on abandoned houses by paying the expenses. This particular house was acquired for $1200. It was in sad shape and had been stripped of wiring and plumbing but did contain a surprising amount of furnishings including a Baldwin grand piano.

hufftour08hufftour09hufftour10The last house on the tour was not only wonderfully restored and decorated, it offered both entertainment and refreshments. Once we had all assembled in the area between the home and the large carriage house, three witches, who had remained entirely motionless as we gathered, delivered a flawless and dramatic reading of the caldron scene from Shakespeare’s Macbeth. As the scene came to an end, a lady emerged from the carriage house. Surprised by the crowd, she explained that she was doing research on the 1947 Roswell incident and the aliens that were rumored to have been brought to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base from there. There had been some recent sightings, she said, but had barely managed to warn us before we experienced a sighting ourselves.

hufftour11I followed the tour, as I did with last year’s Christmas tour, with a visit to the neighborhood brewery.

Cannonball Lunch Break

mccb16_01It was just over a week ago, on the tenth, that ninety old motorcycles pulled out of Atlantic City, New Jersey, and set off for Carlsbad, California. Yesterday, most of them pulled into Dodge City, Kansas, where the riders get a day of rest before continuing west on Monday. This is the 2016 version of the Motorcycle Cannonball and these motorcycles are not just old; They’re very old. And that, of course, is one of the reasons only most of them made it to Dodge City. The newest of the entries was built in 1916 and stuff happens when hundred year old machines are called on to perform mile after mile and day after day. The photo is of event leader Dean Bordigioni on his 1914 Harley Davidson. I’m fairly certain that Dean is not using his cell phone to see if he needs to bring home milk. My guess is that he’s making use of its GPS function or possibly just checking the time. The modern technology that keeps riders safe and on course can seem like it’s from a very different world than the technology propelling them.

The first Motorcycle Cannonball took place in 2010 and I was a spectator as participants approached and departed their overnight stop in Chattanooga, Tennessee. My journal for that outing is here. The competition has been held every two years since then but I completely missed both 2012 and 2014. This year the route passed through Ohio with a lunch stop at Powder Keg Harley-Davidson just a few miles from my home. That’s where all photos in this post were taken.

mccb16_02Bordigioni wasn’t the first rider to reach the lunch stop. He was just the first to reach it after I did. I had missed the arrival of Jeff Tiernan. That’s his 1913 Henderson in the picture with Bordigioni’s Harley behind it. The Cannonball is not a race. It is an endurance run with points awarded based on miles traveled. The motorcycles are divided into three classes with lower classed motorcycles ranked higher than others that have covered the same distance. Bordigioni started and ended Tuesday in first place by virtue of being the only Class I (single cylinder, single speed) entry to cover every mile. Tieman started the day tied (I believe) for fourth and end the day tied (I believe) for third.

mccb16_05mccb16_04mccb16_03The bulk of participants arrived over the next half hour or so. Most were in small groups of five or six. A few riders took advantage of the stop to make adjustments or small repairs but most headed inside for lunch and a seat that didn’t bounce.

mccb16_06mccb16_07mccb16_08What space the competitors didn’t require was filled to overflowing by other motorcycles. Modern Harley-Davidsons comprised the majority but other brands were represented and many spectators arrived on decidedly non-modern machines. There were plenty of HDs among the older bikes and I’ve included a picture of one along with a Triumph, a BSA, an Indian, and a good looking “snortin'” Norton.

mccb16_11mccb16_10mccb16_11Here are a few more or less random shots of riders returning to the road after their little break. That first one isn’t all that random. Doc Hopkins’ 1916 Harley-Davidson is hooked to the only sidecar in the Cannonball which makes Dawn Hamilton the only passenger. The other photos are of Rick Salisbury on a 1916 Excelsior and Australian Chris Knoop on a 1915 JAP.

mccb16_12Yeah, this photo is out of sequence. It’s not a Cannonball entry and I don’t know who the rider is. It’s a HarleyDavidson but I don’t know its vintage beyond knowing that it is too new to enter this year’s competition even if its owner wanted to. I’m posting it as the day’s last picture because I really agree with the assessment of the guy riding sidecar. Thumbs up Cannonballers and Powder Keg  HD. Nicely done.


Dean Bordigioni on that 1914 H-D was still leading when what I take to be 72 entries arrived at Dodge City yesterday afternoon. 22 competitors have covered every mile and have perfect scores. Among them are Jeff Tiernan and Doc Hopkins who are mentioned in the article above. Jeff is listed in 4th and Doc’s in 16th. Also mentioned above are Rick Salisbury and Chris Knoop who are currently listed in 53rd and 46th respectively. All the riders appear to be having entirely too much fun, sore butts and all.

Cincy Got Rail

csclaunch01It has been said that Cincinnati is a place where big ideas come to die. That may not be entirely fair but neither is it unfounded. Especially when the big idea involves public transportation. The biggest of the deceased big ideas is the subway. Tunnels were dug in the 1920s but death came before any track was laid. The streetcar line that opened on Friday barely escaped a similar fate. On Friday morning Cincinnati photographer/writer Ronny Salerno’s blog post consisted of a brief personal recounting of the steps leading to today’s launch which in turn provides a pretty good overview of the history of the big idea itself. The original big idea, a multi-county and multi-state transit system, has been repeatedly beaten and bashed but a downtown streetcar was a small part of that big idea and it is now a reality.

csclaunch02csclaunch03csclaunch04Another big idea that faced serious opposition before becoming reality was the revitalization of Washington Park. The new streetcar line passes on two sides of the park and that is where a little ceremony was planned. I guess it wasn’t too little because, when I arrived about an hour early, the 450 car garage beneath the park was already full. I parked several blocks away and took the picture at the top of this post as I walked back. The presence of every local media outlet was another indication of how big this event was to the city. After a stirring fanfare by trumpeters from the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, I moved around the crowd to watch the proceedings from the rear.

csclaunch05Of course the rear wasn’t the best spot for photos but I managed. One of the first to speak was John Schneider. Schneider is a developer and planner whose support of this project earned him the nickname “Mr. Streetcar”. Each speaker introduced the next and as Schneider finished up his remarks he noted that one of his few regrets was not getting autographs from all of the dignitaries present at the streetcar groundbreaking. He had the shovel he had used with him and he intended to correct his error beginning with the next speaker, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley. That’s Schneider on the left and Cranley on the right. Cranley was  a very vocal opponent of the streetcar and campaigned on a promise to end its construction. Only the fact that it would cost more to abort than complete kept him from making good on that promise.

csclaunch06csclaunch07Past mayors Mark Mallory and Roxanne Qualls were next. Both are long time supporters of the streetcar and, not surprisingly, were roundly cheered by the crowd who had come to celebrate its opening.

csclaunch08Another nine speakers followed the current and former mayors but their remarks, which were largely thank-yous, were brief and the presentations wrapped up roughly an hour after they started. Several small balls were then tossed into the crown in preparation for a digital “ribbon cutting”. Anyone catching a ball earned a seat on one of the bicycles standing by the stage. The bicycles were provided by Red Bike, Cincinnati’s rental/sharing service, and each had an electric generator under its rear wheel. When sufficient power was generated, a large screen turned red and confetti shot from it. There were actually two such screens. I never did get a view of the cyclists and barely got my camera pointed toward the screen in front of them when the confetti erupted. When that happened, I heard a noise behind me and turned to find an identical screen flashing red and spewing confetti. That screen was free of the tight crown near the bicycles and pretty much ignored. I was at the right place at the right time but I sure wasn’t facing the right direction.

csclaunch09csclaunch10csclaunch11With the screens red and the confetti fired, dignitaries began boarding the cars and I moved to the corner to watch the first filled streetcar depart. Officially this new mode of transportation is named the Cincinnati Bell Connector. Cincinnati Bell ended arguments over if and when the system would become self-sustaining by purchasing ten years of naming rights for $340,000 per year.

csclaunch13csclaunch12Once the several car loads of special guests completed their circuit of the 3.6 mile route, the Connector would begin carrying the general public and people started lining up almost as soon as the speeches were over. I spent a little over an hour in the park’s cool shade before getting in line and I should have waited even longer. Another half hour passed before I boarded a car and it wasn’t the one in the first picture. In order to pick up riders at other stops, cars left Washington Park about one third full. I reached the door just as the car reached its quota. Suddenly I was first in line.

csclaunch14The car I did board was completely filled by the time we reached the Banks which is where I got off. I snapped the picture at left then walked down to the Moerlein Lager House for a Connector beer and a commemorative glass. I then re-boarded at the same stop and completed the circuit (plus a little) to reach Rhinegeist Brewery for a Traction beer and another commemorative glass. As planned, I ended my initial streetcar experience here and headed to my car parked nearby.

The opening weekend when rides are free and various businesses have special offers and activities provides no real indication of how popular or successful the Cincinnati Bell Connector will be. My own impression was positive and I fully intend to make use of it in the future. I also overheard several others express similar feelings. It’s going to be a while before we know whether or not those impressions, intentions, and feelings will lead to success but at the moment it sure doesn’t look like an idea that came here to die.

ACDs Seen

acds01Three of America’s most revered marques of the early twentieth century were manufactured in Auburn, Indiana, and the town celebrates that fact every year. The 2016 Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival is the sixtieth. It has been going on for over a week but is almost over with the wrap-up taking place today. I have thought of attending the festival for a long time but a recent Dennis Horvath blog post reminded me of just how big the event is and got me to seriously thinking about finally making it there this year. Tentative plans for other Labor Day Weekend activities kept attendance from being a certainty but both schedule and skies were clear when the weekend actually got here so Friday morning I headed toward northern Indiana.

acds02acds03acds04I reached Auburn during staging for the Factory Test Route Tour. The pair of Cords pictured at the top of this post formed the front row and another Cord sat in the rear. I walked to just beyond the police motorcycle escort then watched the group set off to follow the twenty-eight mile course that the Auburn Automobile Company once used to test new cars.

acds07acds06acds05Of course the tour’s start point was the company’s headquarters which is now the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum. Window shoppers can easily identify at least some of the cars.

acds08acds09This was my second visit to the museum where the building, the cars, and the presentation combine to make this one of the finest automobile museums I’ve ever seen. Over a hundred cars fill the museum and, while they are mostly Auburns, Cords, and Duesenbergs, other interesting and significant cars are also displayed. Office areas with various exhibits are also part of the museum.

acds12acds11acds10Being right next to a world class museum no doubt helps with traffic but it does expose you to some tough comparisons. My first impression of the National Automotive and Truck Museum was not helped by the fact that cars for the auctions that are an important aspect of the festival filled a significant portion of the museum. This meant that many museum vehicles were relocate and displays compressed. On the other hand, the museum’s truck collection does include some truly interesting vehicles.

acds13acds14A downtown Classic Car Cruise-In ended my first day ever at the ACD festival. There were plenty of beautiful and interesting classics parked along the streets but, after seeing all those pre-war ACDs, hot-rods, muscle cars, and ’50s & ’60s classics didn’t hold quite the attraction they might otherwise. The vehicle I found most interesting was a Corvair camper. It is not a converted van but a factory built shell mounted on a pick-up bed.

acds17acds16acds15Saturday started with a pancake breakfast at the National Military History Center. There are actually two museums here and today ten bucks got you breakfast plus admission to both.

acds18acds19acds20The day’s main attraction for me was the Parade of Classics. The 1912 Auburn Town car in the first picture was featured in this year’s festival poster. I had expected downtown to be jam packed for the parade but, except for the courthouse lawn, the area wasn’t crowded at all. There’s an awful lot going on in town this week and the parade isn’t the only place these cars can be seen but that still surprised me.

acds23acds22acds21One of the places to see the cars is around the courthouse square where they all park immediately following the parade. The cars are roped off but you can still get mighty close and all those shiny ACDs are mighty pretty.

It Was Fifty Years Ago Last Week

chartickAs threatened, I did go to last Sunday’s The Beatles At Crosley – 50 Years Later! I probably should have coughed up $1.29 for a Wild Thing MP3 but I didn’t so there was no point in cruising the Senior Center. I did, however, make the drive with the top down despite the fact that number of wheels and a collapsible top are about the only things my 2003 Miata has in common with my 1959 Impala. Other differences between 1966 and 2016 include the presence of a camera in my hands. I still had no souvenirs but I could photograph other people’s. The ticket stub pictured above (note the word “bleaches”) belongs to long time friend Charlotte Wiltberger. By long time I mean that, although I didn’t know her when she bought the ticket, we would meet in a matter of months.

bacf50_01bacf50_02A five foot blowup of one of Gordon Baer’s Cincinnati Post photographs was placed on the field to provide a nice spot for attendees to pose for their own photos. I walked to the first base side of the field to snap a shot that approximates my field of view at the concert.

bacf50_05bacf50_04bacf50_03The event was sponsored by radio station WVXU and the brainchild of John Kiesewetter. That’s John on the left of the first picture introducing Dusty Rhodes. Dusty is now Hamilton County Auditor but once upon a time was a radio discjockey and one of the men responsible for bringing the Beatles to Cincinnati in both 1964 and 1966. The middle picture is of The Beatles Invade Cincinnati author Scott Belmer. Discjockey Jim LaBarbara, in the third picture, didn’t move to Cincinnati until 1969 but “The Music Professor” had contact with the Beatles in other cities.

bacf50_06bacf50_07Other folks sharing memories included discjockey Tom Sandman and musician (Haymarket Riot) Steve Helwig. That’s Bev Olthaus and Charlotte, whose ticket appears at the top of this post, in the second picture. Bev attended both the 1964 and ’66 concerts and has both tickets and a scrapbook filled with memories. There’s a better look at what Charlotte has in that frame here.

bacf50_09bacf50_08Jeff and Misty of the Newbees wrapped things up by leading a sing-along of Beatles songs. No screaming. No crying or fainting. Just a bunch of people with fifty year old memories mouthing the words to songs that helped many of us through quite a few of those fifty years.

Let’s Race Some Cardboard

cbr24_00New Richmond’s 24th Annual Cardboard Board Regatta took place on Saturday. It would have made a great Sunday morning blog post but that slot was already taken by the Beatles concert anniversary (It Was Fifty Years Ago Today). I have done two posts on a single day before and it would have worked as a Sunday evening post but I just didn’t have the time to get it together. When I realized that wouldn’t be possible, I considered not doing any post at all but decided that photos of what the organizers describe as “corrugated chaos” deserve to be seen. With time available, a Monday evening post came together. I’ve posted previous regattas (tag = Cardboard Boat Regatta) so won’t say much about the event beyond reminding readers that all of these wonderful watercraft are made of nothing but cardboard, duct tape, paint, and creativity. More information can be found at the Cardboard Boat Museum website.

I won’t say much about the pictures, which I’m posting as a gallery, either. I will just draw attention to a couple of interest. Each year the pros at the museum build a boat that is raffled off as part of a turnkey race entry. Water Wars was this year’s raffle boat. The last photo shows the start of the race for the prestigious “Cardboard Cup”. Any boat that raced earlier and still survives may enter.

It Was Fifty Years Ago Today…

bcftic…that the Beatles finally got to play — at Crosley Field. I was there. I was also there the day before when they didn’t get to play. Thinking about that weekend still brings a smile despite details having seriously faded from many of my memories and others turning out to be dead wrong. I have no souvenirs or photos. The ticket in the image above isn’t mine (It’s from RareBeatles.) but I once had eighteen of them.

Tickets went on sale in April as my freshman year at the University of Cincinnati was winding down. Someone down the hall from my dorm room was a friend of Joe Santangelo, the younger brother of concert promoter Dino Santangelo. That was certainly lucky but was not nearly as miraculous as the fact that I had money at the end of the school year. Joe could provide third row tickets and I had a hundred dollars. I bought eighteen at $5.50 each. That was face value. No service charge. No handling fee. No Ticket Master. I’m not certain but I’m thinking that the money may have come from a few weeks of wearing a stinky T-shirt and letting people sniff my armpits. Proctor and Gamble often used students in product tests. I participated in a couple and their completions marked some of the few time I actually had cash in hand in those days.

I sold fifteen of those tickets for as much as ten dollars a piece. It was my only serious scalping venture and I remember minor feelings of guilt at selling something for nearly double what I’d paid. I also remember that I didn’t like being a salesman and it showed in my lack of total success. When August 20 arrived I still had three tickets in my possession. Two were for me and my date. The third was left over inventory.

Yes, I had a date but it hadn’t been easy. School was out and I was back in Darke County with the concert about a hundred miles away. None of the few girls I had any sort of contact with could or would go. As I recall, Micky was the friend of a co-worker. What I do recall vividly is picking her up. This was in the final days of my 1959 Chevy co-ownership. The sky was clear and the sun was shining as I pulled up to her house with the top down and those big white fins spread out behind me. The Troggs’ Wild Thing was playing on the AM radio as I turned off the car and headed to the door to meet a girl I’d only talked with on the phone. There is simply no denying that the Beatles and Troggs can make you feel cool even when you’re not.

I can’t remember when the top went up. Maybe we made the whole drive with the car open or maybe we closed it to help with conversation and to keep Micky’s hair in place. It’s really strange what details stick and which disappear. At the stadium it quickly became clear that I had little chance of selling my extra ticket. The concert had not sold out and the scalping scene that we know today did not yet exist in any case. I ended up giving it to the usher who showed us to our seats near first base. No one ever appeared for the seat so he may very well have the souvenir that I don’t.

When the rain hit, someone magically produced several big plastic sheets and everyone in our section tried to form some shelter. Attempts to dump pools that collected without drenching someone weren’t always successful and waterfalls could appear at any time where sheets came together. But I don’t remember anyone becoming the least bit angry. We were all wet and arms got tired as we struggled to hold that plastic above us while hoping against hope to hear the music we had all come for. The huddled masses under that plastic may have been soggy and disappointed but we were having fun and laughing. Maybe it was because we were all younger. Maybe it’s because the world was.

I recall Micky having a good time and laughing along with everyone else and there was a solid reason that she couldn’t return the next day. Even so, we never saw each other again. I suppose that a pair of two hour rides separated only by sitting in the rain for two hours might not be the ideal first date.

Fortunately my buddy Dale was able to make it and the two of us headed to Cincinnati for the rescheduled concert. We didn’t quite make it in time although I’m not 100% sure when we did make it. Combining our sketchy memories with author Scott Belmer’s “the best we can figure” sequence of opening acts and songs from The Beatles Invade Cincinnati, I think we must have reached the ballpark about the time the Cyrkle took the stage. Belmer lists the sequence of acts as the Remains, the Ronettes, the Cyrkle, and Bobby Hebb and he thinks the Cyrkle opened their set with Red Rubber Ball. I recall hearing that song before we reached our seats; Maybe even before we entered the park. So we probably caught part of the Cyrkle’s set, all of Hebb’s, and missed the Remains and Ronettes completely. Besides doing their own short set, the Remains were the backing band for both the Ronettes and Hebb so we would have at least seen them perform. Had we seen them open we would probably remember them much better. Something that I only learned in putting this post together is that they began the show with Hang On Sloopy. It wasn’t the Remains that had put the song on the charts the preceding fall. That was the local band the McCoys who Dale and I both knew rather well. We might have actually remembered that if we’d heard it.

I have learned that at least one of my memories was absolutely wrong. For many years I told people that the Beatles had opened with Paperback Writer and that the opening harmonies sounded very non-harmonic. Every account I’ve seen says they opened with Rock and Roll Music and Paperback Writer was their tenth and next to last song. I obviously misremembered the sequence but I’m sticking by the non-harmonic part. I think there may have been some speakers along the base lines and we could hear the music to some degree. There was stiff competition, however, and I think I watched the screaming and crying girls in the stands nearly as much as I watched the show on the fairly distant stage. Neither Dale nor I screamed or cried and I don’t think Micky would have either. Of course, we’ll never know for sure.

The Beatles flew directly to Saint Louis to perform that evening. Four more shows (New York City, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco) completed the tour. They never toured again. Crosley Field served as the Reds home for three and a half more seasons before being replaced and demolished. In 1988 a replica of the field was constructed in the Cincinnati suburb of Blue Ash. Later today, the fiftieth anniversary of the concert will be celebrated there. (The Beatles At Crosley – 50 Years Later!} The weather looks promising so maybe I’ll put the top down on the Miata, crank up Wild Thing on the iPod, and see if any of the chicks at the Senior Center want to go.

ADDENDUM 28-Aug-2016: There’s a post on the anniversary celebration here.