Friday, January 02, 2009

“The Rearview Mirror”

c. 2008 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Note to Readers: With the end of another calendar cycle at hand, I am about to complete eleven years of ‘Thoughts At Large.’ Reader responses to this column have never been more plentiful than during 2008. What follows here is a brief overview of comments offered by those valued souls who have made our newspaper a continued success.

Every column from the past year has been unique in its own way. But some seemed to provoke more thought among readers of The Maple Leaf than others. Here are a few that resonated meaningfully with citizens in Geauga County, and beyond:

MESSAGE FROM MALAYSIA (Chapters One and Two) – This pair of columns was inspired by a dubious financial offer from Barrister Bhag Sulaiman, of Kuala Lumpur. They yielded much attention from readers around the globe. It helped to demonstrate just how widespread such Internet scams have become:

“Hallo Rod,
I am writing to you about your article about: ‘Message from Malaysia’ (Part One)
Yesterday I received the exactly same e-mail stating that I inherited $8.7million.
I also had the same questions like:
Why is he using a yahoo mail account if he is a practitioner of law?
Why does he not mention the name of his practice?
And seeing that I know my heritage line, there is no person from my line in Malaysia?
That started my thoughts and while searching for a ‘Mr. Bhag Sulaiman’ I came upon your article. Can you please keep me informed about this Mr. Bhag Sulaiman. Thank you.”

- Johan Prins, Peacehaven, Vereeniging, SOUTH AFRICA

“(I) received the same message yesterday 22 Dec 2008 telling me about a sum of 8.7 million US dollars, belonging to a folk who died of a heart attack. The timing is amazing, my application for a bursary to study medicine was rejected an hour before. Thanx for publishing this, you saved my life.”

- Nelson, via

A GREEK ODYSSEY, COMPLETED – When local restaurateur George Diskes passed away, it was a moment filled with great measures of sadness and joy. Though friends and former patrons of The Dinner Bell Diner ached with sorrow over his passing, they also celebrated his memory with colorful stories that depicted his generosity and individualism:

“Thank you for your tribute to George. It captured all the essence of my brother-in-law's unique and loveable personality. He was the perfect host on our family's visit to Painesville and Mentor in August of 1995. He was so proud and happy to show off his favorite places - a baseball game at Jacob's Field…in Cleveland, a vintage soda fountain, the county fair and all his friends there, a farm where his Camel JJ lived since the closing of his petting zoo, his home and some of his favorite animals, and of Course Famous George's Dinner Bell Diner with it's delicious and humongous servings. George also took us to buy jelly and jams from his Amish friends. He loved his employees and his customers and introduced many of his favorites to us. I told him one of the Best days of my life was the night he took us to the Opening Concert for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with a dinner at his nearby favorite Greek Restaurant before the once in a life time concert. The whole evening was delicious and AWESOME and included one of his favorites Johnny Cash (June Carter). George truly loved your area of Ohio and I enjoyed those few days with George sharing his favorite places there with him. I will treasure those memories forever.

It was so difficult to watch George's health decline these past few years and even harder to say goodbye to him. His son Andy with his friend's help created an original multimedia tribute to his father for the wake and funeral and he gave a heartwarming eulogy. There was a lot of love put into it and included pictures and a letter from George's granddaughters Sofia and Catalina. I hope he shared the eulogy to George with you.

Thank you so much again for your tribute to Famous George. He had such a ZEST for life right up until his passing. It is so quiet without him and no one will ever be able to take his place in our hearts. The void that has been created without him is only eased by knowing he is at peace now and no longer suffering.”

- Pat Diskes, sister-in-law of Famous George

“Thanks. (we) loved going to George’s for dinner. He will be missed. I will miss seeing him sitting him at his table. That place had the best prime rib. I remember seeing a picture of Gabor dancing on one of the tables when she visited. I seem to remember one of the ABC reporters doing a report from there during a presidential campaign.

- Cindy Campbell, Geauga County

LETTING GO OF LAWSON FORD – For many years, local residents still referred to the Classic Ford-Mercury dealership on Center Street in Chardon as ‘Lawson Ford.’ When the business closed, it provided cause to remember and reflect on what had gone before. The column received many comments, including a kind response directly from the Abrams family:

“Dear Mr. Ice,
A friend called our attention to your wonderful article on May 22, 2008 ‘Letting Go of Lawson Ford’ in which you refer so kindly to the owner, my husband, Milt Abrams. We bought the paper yesterday and can't tell you how much your article meant to Milt and our family. Milt suffered a stroke at the beginning of April and has only been home from the hospital for a few weeks. He is slowly recovering and doing well. Your article just boosted his spirits to the moon, it's just what he needed. FYI, he still wears the belt buckle made out of coins. It has sort of become his trademark. People have even stopped him when we have been out of town to say they recognize that buckle and had bought a car from him years ago in Chardon. Thanks again.”

- Ronnie Abrams, Chagrin Falls

Writing this column is happy work. Yet it would mean nothing without the support of readers in Geauga and across the globe.

My sincere thanks to you for visiting this page, every week.

Postscript: This has been a year of great challenges for America, and the world. But I hold fast to the belief that difficult times bring out the goodness in humanity. Best holiday wishes to you, and much hope for a prosperous New Year!

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