Thursday, February 26, 2009

Another WTAM Homemade Ad



I stumbled on this recently, while doing Internet research. It is a 1961 catalog for RADIO SHACK. Note that they boast having four retail locations at that time, in addition to their mail order business. Tandy Corporation wouldn't buy the chain until two years later...

“Wordsmith Confabulation”

c. 2009 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

It was a festive day at the public library in Chardon.

The facility was busy with knowledge-seekers, aides, budding artists, and wandering children. After months of stalling, I had arrived for a regular gathering of writers hosted by Carrie Hamglaze, a long-time friend from the city council.

Only a moment passed before I spotted the group, around a table piled with documents.

“Rodney!” my compadre cheered as I took a seat. “Welcome to the monthly Geauga Wordsmith Confabulation!” Her red hat was festooned with shamrock pins and assorted jewelry.

The circle echoed this greeting. “Welcome!”

“Thanks for the invitation,” I said.

Carrie smoothed her green satin blouse. “Before we begin reading, is there any new business to consider?”

No one responded. They were eager to trade poems and stories.

“Very well,” she smiled. “Who would like to go first?”

Sondra Krale raised her hand. “How about me??” She was a skinny, young student from Kent State University. Her flower-print dress seemed to glow in hues of neon yellow, pink, and green. She wore red Chuck Taylor sneakers.

Sondra opened her college notebook, and began to read out loud in the squawk of a wounded duck:

“George Bush
We gave you a push
Out of the White House
With Dick Cheney the loud mouth
Our mission is accomplished
You gave us our wish
Barack took your chair
You’re no longer there
Now war can be over
And we’ll dance in the clover
No mongering fear
Give Laura your tears
We’ll re-elect dear ‘O’
For the next thirty years!”

Polite applause followed the reading.

“I wrote that during a class on Global Warming,” Sondra giggled.

Carrie Hamglaze was nearly speechless. “Umm… yes! Very expressive poetry… thank you! Well, who would like to be next?”

I sorted through manuscripts, still unsure of what to share with the group.

Leisy DiBora raised her hand. She was a middle-aged real estate agent from Burton. "I’ll go, Mrs. Hamglaze!”

The circle leaned forward in unison.

“This is called ‘Diary of the Sunsetter’ from my anthology of personal essays,” Leisy sang with enthusiasm. Her voice grew louder with purpose:

“Diary! Day One! My Sunsetter awning is useless this afternoon. Snowflakes are drifting from the sky. Everything is gray, gray, gray!

Diary! Day Two! My Sunsetter awning waits in the cold, recoiled and nearly invisible. The salesman who tricked me into buying this product was a charlatan! I used it only a few times last summer. Now it is laughing at me from the roof’s edge. Laughter! Merciless laughter!

Diary! Day Three! My Sunsetter salesman was a trickster, like generations of men who tied up their wives in apron strings. I am in a spiral of freezing rain and slush. Help me, Oprah! Help me!

Diary! Day Four! My Sunsetter awning is a cruel companion, offering me no comfort. Winter breathes over the landscape, with final wisps of frost clinging to the grass. I am alone in my sadness. Alone. Alone.

Diary! Day Five! My Sunsetter awning has been in hibernation for months. But this afternoon there is sunshine, and melting snow running in trickles of hopeful moisture down the edges of my patio. Oh, that sparkling river of potential! Glistening beside the bare stones. Let me pull out the awning and pretend it is summer. Leap forward my slumbering friend! Leap! Leap!

Diary! Day Six! The air is chilly, yet crackling with energy. Sunshine! Blessed sunshine! That grand yellow ball is in the sky. I want to sit beneath my awning and meditate until blissful visions rise from the lawn. Elves and gnomes are dancing in puddles of dwindling winter white. Bird beaks peer from the trees. The long night is almost finished. Let me be free! Let me be free!”

More polite applause echoed from the group.

“Yes, uhmm… well done!” Carrie proclaimed. “A very… powerful statement. Who will go next?”

Bud Farjeski raised his hand. The graying, chubby retiree adjusted his hearing aid before speaking. “I’ve got a story here about being a soldier,” he boasted. “Would that be okay to share?”

Everyone nodded.

Slowly, he began to read from a typewritten page:

“I was in Korea with the Army for six years. For half of that time I sat guard by the North-South DMZ. That was a year or two after the armistice. Eventually, I was assigned to a security detail at the Truce Village of Panmunjom. It seemed like a different planet over there. But the most amazing thing I witnessed was their national appetite for SPAM. Korea adopted the canned ‘Miracle Meat’ from us, and made it part of the home culture. It sold on the black market for years before anyone could buy the stuff legally. Now, it comes in gift sets and presentation boxes. They gobble it like a delicacy. During their Thanksgiving, called ‘Chuseok,’ they buy thousands of cans. Every village seemed to have their own recipe. My favorite was SPAM strips, mushrooms, and rice noodles in a hot mustard broth. We’d get bowls of that mix at a shabby restaurant just off the base. It was run by a stooped-over old woman who cursed us in broken English. We called her ‘Roadhouse Rosie.’ She didn’t like foreigners, but our money kept her family out of poverty. And she loved SPAM. One year, for her birthday, we took up a collection and presented her with a case of canned meat wrapped in packing material from a weapons shipment. She actually cried, which none of her children could remember seeing before.”

Bud paused for a moment. When the silence became unbearable, he added: “The end!”

Carrie ran her finger down a list of guests. One by one, each writer gleefully shared their own literary creation.

Finally, I was the only one who hadn’t read a manuscript to the group.

“Mister Rodney!” our host warbled. “I believe you have the honor of going last. What would you like to share with the Confab?”

I reddened with embarrassment. “Well, I’ve settled on a newspaper column called ‘The Tube Farm’ from a couple of years ago…”

She brightened. “That produced many letters to the editor as I remember. Read on, friend!”

I cleared my throat and started the recitation:

“Like most Americans, I grew up with notions of God and Country that were unshaken by winds of fortune. To be grounded in this rich, philosophical loam was a privilege. It offered security, and a sturdy sense of self-worth. Yet maturity inevitably aroused questions. What could I believe? After generous doses of Art Bell, Alex Jones, and The X-Files, I began to ponder reality itself. My skeptical cousin, Gertrude Ice, spoke strongly to such thoughts with her own energetic cynicism. We shared many discussions about the unsure nature of domestic life. And then… THE TUBE FARM began to appear, not far from my home in Thompson…”

Suddenly, Carrie looked at her watch. “Oh my, look at the time! We’ve reached the end of this meeting, I’m afraid! The library has a Girl Scouts meeting here in five minutes. Let’s continue the Confab next month. Thank you, everyone!”

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Sunday, February 22, 2009


Here are two new DA creations from the Icehouse home office:

Saturday, February 21, 2009


The first Waffle House location in this area appeared on Crile Road in Concord Township a few years ago. It was the product of local owner Bill Baldwin. Almost immediately, this new WH location became a favorite of truckers, travelers, hot rod enthusiasts, and artistic malcontents across the region.

The Waffle House is an incredible chain of restaurants. They offer American-style comfort food in an efficient, minimalist setting. Just visiting one of these eateries is an experience in itself. You'll be glad you were there!

Waffle House #1630
Gristmill Village
at Quail Hollow
7505 Crile Road
Concord, Ohio 44077
(440) 350-1801


This package of 'cheesehead' goodies came to the Ice Household thanks to Super Kmart in Mentor. Around the holidays last year, they received multiple displays of Klement's products including their famous recipe summer sausages and these snack-sized smokies.

Klement's is known in Wisconsin for their famous 'racing sausages' that are part of the experience at Milwaukee Brewers games played at Miller Park. Also, the company produces a variety of edible treats that are a tasty part of life in the upper midwest.

Contact them at:

Klement's Sausage Co, Inc.
207 E. Lincoln Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53207-1593
Toll-Free: 1-800-553-6368


On a blustery Ohio evening in February, where can a wandering soul turn for inspiration? Why... the local IGA, of course!

Having been raised in small towns southeast of Columbus, I was indelibly tattooed with the Independent Grocers' Association brand at an early age. In many of these out-of-the-way communities, having an IGA present was a gift from God. Without this food retailing collective, many would've had no market for edible goods of any kind.

Rideout's in Painesville Township reflects this tradition in a modern context. They have served the eastern side of Lake County for many years.

The store has typically been a place to discover unusual items not normally seen in the northeasatern Ohio market. Most recent of these was a kind of pork rinds I'd never sampled before, Grandpapa's Salt & Vinegar flavor. They were light in texture, flavorful, and curiously satisfying!

For further information...

Rideout's IGA
2736 N. Ridge Road
Painesville, OH 44077
Phone: (440) 352-3600
Fax: (440) 352-1801

5800 E. 8 Mile Road
Detriot, MI 48234

Thursday, February 19, 2009


On the road? Hungry? Broke? There is a solution...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

“Junkyard Explorer”

c. 2009 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

It was early on a foggy morning in the Icehouse home office.

I had spent the previous day traveling deeper into the rural hinterland, in search of photographable treasures. Happily, the adventure proved to be a worthwhile endeavor. But now, these digital images had to be edited.

The sunrise was beginning. And I had not yet completed my work…

From far away, I could hear the strained cry of a rooster calling out to the waking dawn. Our computer hummed softly, while transferring files. Somewhere in the midst of those competing sounds was the thump of my own heartbeat.

Lingering shadows caressed the yawning sun. I huddled close to the monitor, and clicked through the last photos from my camera. A taste of cold coffee made me wish that the task were done.

Yet it felt good to be busy.

Liz, my wife, lay sleeping under layers of quilted fabric. At her feet was Quigley, our Pomeranian pooch. Both of them were snoring, gently.

I took comfort in their obliviousness. It would let me finish my work in silence.

Suddenly, Mrs. Ice sat up in bed.

“Have you been up all night?” she moaned. Her hair was a shock of unruly brown.

I nearly jumped out of the chair. “Well… good morning, honey!”

She slipped out of the tangled bedclothes. Her pink pajamas seemed to glow with luminous intensity. “Rodney! Don’t you ever sleep?”

“My schedule is backwards,” I confessed. When the sun is out, I’m slumbering in the recliner. But at night, ideas begin to dance in my head.”

Liz peered over my shoulder, at an album of electronic pictures. “What is that? An abandoned restaurant?”

I grinned proudly. “Yes, sort of… It’s a deserted Stuckey’s location. I’ve been fascinated with it for over twenty-five years.”

My wife wrinkled her nose. “A what??”

“Stuckey’s,” I repeated.

“Okay,” she sighed. “I’ve accepted that you’re a bit ‘different’ at times, Rodney. But, you drove around all day just to take pictures of an empty old building?”

“This will be my next installment of ‘Junkyard Explorer’ on the Icehouse weblog,” I observed.

“Oh, please!” she hissed. “Can’t you write about something normal for a change?”

“Think of it as an archaeological expedition,” I said. “A look into the past…”

She frowned. “Are you kidding?”

“Not at all!” I protested. “There are lots of urban explorers at work these days. Their projects are all over the Internet. This was unfinished business. I first saw the place in 1983.”

“Don’t tell me you’re turning into a cyber-geek!” she wailed. “Are you trespassing for kicks?”

“No, not at all,” I said in self-defense. “I’ll leave that for the disaffected college nerds. I just take photos from outside and do a bit of research.”

Liz yawned. “Research? You mean typing keywords into ‘Google’ until something matches?”

I cleared my throat. “You’re making me feel like Rodney Dangerfield – no respect!”

She giggled. “Most guys hunt or fish in their spare time. Or participate in fantasy sports leagues. But my husband searches for dilapidated buildings! Yikes!!”

My face reddened with embarrassment. “This is a post-modern form of study,” I said. “Just like examining the pyramids, or ancient temples. Every structure tells a story…”

Her stamina had evaporated. “Okay. I give up. So, why were you interested in this place?”

I felt vindicated by her change in tone. After searching through an unorganized stack of paperwork, I began to read from a Stuckey’s company brochure:

“A little magic, a lot of hard work, and an American tradition is born - When W.S. Stuckey, Sr. opened his Georgia pecan stand in 1937, his recipe for success consisted of melt-in-your-mouth treats (our world famous Pecan Log Roll speaks for itself), fun gifts and souvenirs, and the simple belief that nothing was more important than making - and keeping - the friendship of American travelers generation after generation. If you're of an age to remember tourist camps, Burma Shave signs, and two-lane blacktops - or even gas lines, Pintos, and crackling AM radio - chances are you remember the sprawling Stuckey's empire: A venerable roadside oasis - and a highway heaven of souvenirs, cold drinks, hot snacks, and pecan candy - marked by the pitched roof and teal blue shingles.”

My wife nodded. “Wow. I’ve never heard of them before.”

“Stuckey’s was an icon during my childhood,” I said. “They were part candy store, part gift shop, and part service station. After the company fell on hard times, they disappeared from Ohio. But I held on to those fanciful memories.”

Liz rubbed her eyes. “So… you hoped to peek through the time tunnel?”

“Yes,” I agreed. “That boarded-up outpost has always intrigued me… but for whatever reason, I never gave it a closer look. Until now.”

She sighed. “So, was there anything inside?”

“Not much that I could see through the dirty glass,” I replied. “No signs or fixtures. Just faux-brick paneling and stacks of old car tires.”

“Rubber tires?” she squawked with disbelief.

I nodded. “It was a strange sight. No vintage chairs or tables. No display cases or counter tops. Not even a discarded promotional pamphlet. Just piles and piles of worn out tires…”

“Were you disappointed?” she whispered.

“No, not really,” I explained. “Something in that musty tomb still offered a glimpse into yesterday. Especially the expansive view of its front windows. It made me reflect on being a kid in the 1960’s. Traveling in the family station wagon while listening to my transistor radio. Yearning for the simple pleasure of a meal at McDonald’s or Burger Chef. Planning custom modifications for my Schwinn Banana-bike.”

Liz began to giggle again. “Are you having a mid-life crisis?”

I shook my head. “Not at all. Just trying to piece together the memories.”

She wasn’t convinced. “What other places have you written about?”

“An abandoned water works hidden in the woods,” I confessed. “Only a few miles northeast of Thompson. It was a fascinating place, made of light brown bricks with an Art Deco entrance… A drive-in theater hidden by overgrown foliage, just down from the lakeshore… Then, going south, there was a closed general store that looked like something out of an old Western Movie… heading west, I found a dead mall that still looked like a creation from the 1970’s… And while on a family trip, there was a CB Radio shop I found in Indiana…”

My wife shuddered. “Hey, I remember the CB shop. We were getting soft drinks at a roadside gas station, and suddenly you went running with our camera!”

“Didn’t want to miss a photo opportunity,” I said.

She frowned. “Just once, Rodney. Can’t you do anything in your life without using the experience for a writing feature?”

I took a deep breath while considering her question.

“No,” I answered at last.

With a look of disgust, Liz walked out of the bedroom.

It was time to get back to work!

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JUNKYARD EXPLORER: Kiwanis Lake Tavern

Back in the early 90's, my brother rented a basement apartment in Kiwanis Lake, east of Newbury. Bubba's dwelling was on a hillside, surrounded by thickets of verdant green.

The settlement was originally a community of vacation cottages around the sprawling natural reserve of water. But eventually, it became a crowded borough of regular dwellings.

The roads in Kiwanis were narrow, twisty, and steep. Yet each hillside bungalow seemed to offer a different angle on the lake. It was a place of natural beauty and small-town social regimentation. I grew fond of it over time.

Entering the enclave on Elm Road, off of Route 87, I would pass an anonymous tavern that was dependably fronted by an assortment of rusty cars and trucks. No one seemed to know what the watering hole was called. And my brother had never been inside. But it seemed busy with local patrons.

Recently, I drove through Kiwanis to see if the old apartment was still there. Amazingly, it looked as if the past fifteen years had done little to change the neighborhood. Yet one development stood out in contrast... the tavern had succumbed to a fire.

What was this place? The secret remains buried under layers of ash and rubble. If only these ruined walls could speak aloud...


My late father-in-law loved this store.

Jefferson Golden Dawn is a throwback to days of yore. A gentler time when grocers would offer their goods not only in a timely and affordable fashion, but with the care that once defined shopkeeping as an avocation.

Inside the place, one can find all sorts of edible goods, along with gear designed for hunting and fishing in the great outdoors. Over a frozen foods case, for example, there is a colorful display of rubber waders and fishing rods. Upstairs, there is a store-above-the-store, with firearms and other related bits of hardware.

JGD is the sort of food depot everyone in America used to have, until mega-sized chain operations conquered the market. If you're in the area, stop by for a bit of nostalgia, and friendly service.

43 E Jefferson St
Jefferson, OH 44047
(440) 576-5830

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Letter From Mrs. Ice


Hello everyone,

Thank You all for your thoughts and prayers through the last month. It has been a difficult. We are all hanging in there. We were able to share an incredible day on Saturday together. Dad had a party with the Angels. He was fishing, playing catch with his dog, talking to people, eating and drinking and even smoking a cigarette.(all air of course) He would interact with us and them. He was all smiles and seemed to be having a wonderful time. We will miss him so much but he is in a better place and God must have an awful big job for him to do to take him from us so soon. He had many things he wanted to do yet. He was in good spirits till the end and knew he was going on to bigger and better. So again Thank You for your thoughts and prayers. here is a copy of the Obituary or you can go to the funeral home web site to see it.

Burr funeral Home Chardon OH

Sincerely, Jamie (Liz) Ice

Richard Allen Peters
Born: December 13, 1949
Died: February 16, 2009

Services: Friday, February 20, 11:00 AM at Thompson United Methodist Church, 6758 Madison Road, (St. Rt. 528/Thompson Square), Thompson. Rev. Harley R. Wheeler of the church will officiate.

Visitation: Thursday, 2-4 and 6-8 PM at the Burr Funeral Home, 116 South St. (on St. Rt. 44, 500’ south of Rt. 6/Chardon Square) Chardon.

Mr. Peters was in Sales and Customer Service at Home Depot, Chardon. He was employed when the Chardon Store opened. While in Wisconsin, he worked as a heat treating specialist in the steel industry.

Mr. Peters was a Veteran of US Air Force, Staff Sergeant, served in Korea during peacetime. He was a member of the Thompson United Methodist Church.

Being an avid outdoorsman, he enjoying hunting, fishing, and archery. He loved to teach children archery skills. Richard also enjoyed leather crafting.

He enjoyed riding Harley motorcycles with his family and friends.

He was a graduate of Milwaukee Institute of Technology with a BA in Metallurgy.

Survivors include:

His wife Betty of Trumbull Twp., whom he married December 29, 1998 in Chardon;

His mother Dorothy (Nee: Bishop) Peters of Mukwonago, Wisconsin, 2 Daughters Christine and Amy Fitzgerald of Wisconsin,

1 Step Daughter: Jamie (Rodney) Ice of Thompson Twp.,

2 Granddaughters: Carly and Megan Webber of Thompson Twp.,

3 Sisters: Pamela Grittner, Heidi (Ed) Zimmerman and Doreen (Eric) Olson, all of Milwaukee, Wisconsin,

1 Brother: Craig (Kathy) Peters of Milwaukee, Wisconsin,

Mother in law: Marlin Foley of Orwell,

Several Sisters-in-law and their husbands.

His father Kenneth Peters and wife Sharon Peters preceded him in death.

Friday, February 13, 2009


Here we have a vintage 1956 Ford Parklane station wagon... and an invitation to dine at America's original burger joint... White Castle!

Since 1921, The Castle has towered over its competition with flavorful little square bites of beefy goodness. There is no better place to connect with the authentic experience of modern fast-food.

Get your 'slyders' today!

“A Blast from the Bugle”

c. 2009 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

It was a busy morning at McDonald’s in Chardon. I huddled at a table by their rock fireplace, giving thanks for its extra warmth. Pale sunlight streamed through the window by my chair, without much effect on the day. Arctic air numbed patrons as they departed with steaming sacks of McGriddles and Breakfast Burritos.

I felt glad to be eating inside the House of Ronald.

Above the pit of flaming stones was a flat-screen television, tuned to CNN. News reports of economic chaos flickered on the screen, nearly without notice. Even my own attention span seemed decidedly short, under the weight of hunger and cold.

Breakfast was waiting! I couldn’t think of anything else.

While chewing through McFlapjacks and sausage, a familiar figure appeared from the doorway. His shaggy hair and beard were thick with snow. Ice crystals flew from his overalls.

“Hey, friend!” he bellowed. “I’m glad to see you didn’t forget the Tuesday roundtable!”

It was Ezekiel Byler-Gregg, journalist extraordinaire of Geauga County.

For several years it had been our tradition to meet with writers from other local newspapers, under the Golden Arches. But weather sometimes overwhelmed that habit.

Today, only Ezekiel and myself were present.

My colleague slipped off his Carhartt jacket, sat down, and stroked his whiskered chin. An armload of old newsprint hit the table.

“Well… we brought it back to life!” he proclaimed.

I shrugged my shoulders. “Ummm… Frankenstein’s monster?”

He frowned. “Be serious, Rodney!”

I bowed my head. “Serious. Yes. Go on…”

“I’m talking about The Bugle!” he explained with a growl.

I nodded in agreement. “Yeah, of course… The Bugle… your reborn paper looks great, Zeke! Congratulations on landing the job as Editor-In-Chief.”

The grizzled newsroom vet smiled proudly. “I was the last editor, twenty-nine years ago. Now I’m the first…”

“Sounds like an appropriate way to tie it all together,” I said.

Ezekiel continued his reflection. “The Burton Daily Bugle was originally founded by a fellow named T. Hezekiah Cromwell, in 1889,” he said. “According to documents in the Geauga County Archives, he came here as a young man, from Syracuse, New York.”

I sipped coffee while considering his observations. “What a fascinating story…”

“The newspaper went through numerous changes of format as time progressed,” he continued. “It survived war, financial depression, and the rise of electronic media sources. But then, the publication closed in early 1980. Many hoped that it might someday be revived. Late last year, that yearning was finally fulfilled. An endowment from the Cromwell family made it possible. More history came alive, in Burton…”

“The Bugle sounded again,” I cheered.

He raised an eyebrow. “Blast it! That could’ve been a headline on the premier issue!”

“Never mind,” I said. “What are you working on for this Sunday’s installment of Editor’s Notebook?”

My journalist cohort raised his eyebrow again. “Looking to steal inspiration, Rodney?”

“No,” I protested. “Just a bit of professional curiosity.”

Ezekiel brightened. “Well then, listen to this!”

He began to read out loud from a sheet of paper:

Shuttin' Detroit Down
Written By: John Rich

“My daddy taught me that in this country everyone’s the same
You work hard for your dollar and you never pass the blame
When it don’t go your way
Now I see all these big shots whinin’ on my evening news
About how they’re losin’ billions and how it’s up to me and you
To come running to the rescue
Well pardon me if I don’t shed a tear ‘cause they’re selling make believe
And we don’t buy that here

Cause in the real world they’re shuttin’ Detroit down
While the boss man takes his bonus pay and jets out of town
And DC’s bailing out the bankers as the farmers auction ground,
Yeah while they’re living it up on Wall Street in that New York City town,
Here in the real world they’re shuttin’ Detroit down.
They’re shuttin’ Detroit down.”

Well that old man’s been workin’ in that plant most all of his life
Now his pension plan’s been cut in half and he can’t afford to die
And it’s a crying shame, ‘cause he ain’t the one to blame
When I look down and see his callused hands,
Let me tell you friend it gets me fightin’ mad

Cause in the real world they’re shutting Detroit down
While the boss man takes his bonus pay and jets out of town
And DC’s bailing out the bankers as the farmers auction ground,
Yeah while they’re living it up on Wall Street in that New York City town,
Here in the real world they’re shuttin’ Detroit down…”

After he’d finished, I was speechless.

“Is that powerful prose, or what?” he laughed.

I took a deep breath. “Wow. A simple, yet elegant bit of social commentary there… by a Country Music performer?”

He nodded. “John Rich is in a duo with Big Kenny Alphin. He was also a judge on the ‘Nashville Star’ TV program.”

“Right,” I said. “Big & Rich. But… I didn’t think you liked modern Country music.”
My friend tugged at his overall braces. “Normally, I’d rather hear bluegrass or down-home, hillbilly folk. But this song is a statement for our times.”

I picked up the page, and read those words again:

“Yeah while they’re living it up on Wall Street in that New York City town,
Here in the real world they’re shuttin’ Detroit down…”

Ezekiel put his weathered hands on the table. “The people are losing faith in our institutions. Democrat, Republican, Independent, or indifferent. It doesn’t matter. Our nation is being robbed.”

“Those are strong words,” I said.

“Has even one banker been called to testify on Capitol Hill?” he thundered. “Has even one lost their job over this debacle?”

“Well, not yet.” I fumbled. “President Obama is talking about oversight in the future as part of the bailout…”

“Action after the fact,” he shouted. “Money in their pockets doesn’t offer real correction. So, where’s the outrage?”

I sighed. There was nothing to say.

My wordsmithing compadre grabbed the sheet of lyrics. “Your outrage is right here. In this song!” He waved the paper with defiance. “And on the lips of American citizens from Geauga County to the coasts, and back!”

By now, other visitors to the restaurant had stopped their routine. The McStaff was at a standstill, behind their lunch counter.

“Zeke,” I cautioned. “You’re getting awfully loud…”

“Loud??” he stammered. “No Rodney, the tone of this debate NEEDS to get loud! We are being ignored by Wall Street CEOs and their pals in the government. We need to rise and be heard!”

My face went red. “I think you’re being heard, all right. Calm down!”

Ezekiel surveyed the room. All conversation had stopped. Every eye was fixed on him.

Then, a handclap broke the silence.

Followed by another. And another. And another, until they spilled forth in a cascade of emotion.

The moment was punctuated with a standing ovation!

POSTSCRIPT: Ezekiel Byler-Gregg’s column appeared soon afterward in the all-new Burton Daily Bugle. The issue sold out by Sunday afternoon.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Obama Comes To Geneva

President Obama has traveled across America with the zeal of a young, progressive spirit. But who would have imagined that he would show up in... Geneva, Ohio?

This enclave just south of Lake Erie may be known for the Grape JAMboree, WKKY Country Music radio, and blue-collar, midwestern culture. But now, the city also boasts a winter tribute to Barack Obama. The half-chief executive/half-snowman effigy is posted by Gale's Coffee Corner, a local spot for hot beverages and relaxing conversation.

The image of our president seems destined to garner lots of attention. Especially when warmer months have tourists passing through on their way to 'The Strip' in Geneva-On-The-Lake. It is also likely that Gale's will be brewing up more Java than ever for the 2009 season, thanks to their sidewalk tribute.

No economic stimulus is needed here in Geneva - a wooden figure of our 44th president is more than enough to help grow their business.

Gale's Coffee Corner
1 S Broadway
Geneva, OH 44041



Monday, February 09, 2009

JUNKYARD EXPLORER: Abandoned Stuckey's In Austinburg

In the days of cheap gasoline and American greatness, Stuckey's was a familiar presence on highways across the nation. The company grew from a Georgia pecan stand into a successful chain of travel stores. Their Pecan Log Roll divinities became part of domestic folklore. But over time, market trends buffeted the company. Today, Stuckey's operates mainly in the south. Yet looking through the weathered glass of this abandoned location evokes memories of a bygone era populated with station wagons full of freckled kids and Rocket-Age optimism...

Most surprising about this forgotten relic was what waited inside its walls - a musty collection of discarded tires. I'd expected vintage signs, or empty countertops and vacant shelves... but not piles of steel-belted rubber.

It was another unexpected twist of life in the cultural junkyard!

WAFFLE HOUSE - Austinburg, Ohio

In yonder days, I had to visit Columbus to enjoy a blue-collar meal at Waffle House. But then, local entrepreneur Bill Baldwin brought a location of the storied franchise to Concord, off of Interstate 90.

Restaurant #1630 soon became one of my favorite places for authentic road cuisine. I thought it was an incredible gift of good fortune to have such a distinctive eatery in my own corner of America.

Then, another WH appeared, in Eastlake. And another...

This location is in Austinburg, on Route 45 just off of I-90. As ever, it reflects the basic company paradigm - colorful, minimalistic architecture combined with a no-frills business model. And a menu guaranteed to delight even the most jaded palate... if you're a fan of tasty, highway vittles served amid the decor of an old-fashioned trucker's outpost.

I am. That's why the Waffle House makes me smile, every day of the year!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Sounds of the South

Thursday night as I was doing some late driving I tuned around a bit on the radio... and WSB 750 in Atlanta was coming in perfectly. On the air was this interesting fellow. He was in the midst of a story about how he climbed the corporate ladder at Burger King... fascinating stuff if you're a talk radio junkie.

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Radio Daze

In the early 70's I lived in Lynchburg, Virginia. While traveling between home and school, Dad and I noticed an old radio on the tree lawn of a house near Sandusky Elementary. It was a wood, console-model unit that appeared to be quite old, even then.

After a bit of pleading, Dad inquired about the radio to confirm that it was being discarded with the trash. Soon afterward, we were stuffing it into out two door, 1970 Ford Maverick.

The vintage radio was mine! If my memory is correct, the device pictured here closely resembles my own curbside discovery... a 1937 model 37-60F.

As it happened, the console receiver was a PHILCO, with AM and shortwave bands. Inside its luxurious cabinet, everything was fully intact, except for the speaker. It functioned perfectly. From that day forward, it became my favorite way to explore the broadcasting universe.

I tuned in lots of distant stations, like WOWO (Fort Wayne, IN); WSB (Atlanta, GA); and WWWE (Cleveland, OH). Many foreign stations were also readily available, thanks to the shortwave bands. I enjoyed England's BBC and Germany's Radio Deutsche Welle.

Eventually, my PHILCO landed in the attic as a childhood relic. After I left home, it was given away. But even now, I can hear the crackle of that old friend, and see the glow of its vacuum tubes...

Especially when tuning around the dial in search of listening adventure!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

“Bailout Request”

c. 2009 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

The economic meltdown of 2008 was an event that shook America, and the world. It crumbled venerable institutions and sent politicians into a frenzy of damage assessment. Billions of dollars were pumped into our banks, with little oversight.

Meanwhile a lesser sum was afforded to the nation’s surviving automakers, to stall their slide toward ruin. Soon, the word ‘bailout’ became part of our modern vocabulary. The result has been mixed at best. While our moneychangers continue to teeter on the brink of collapse, citizen discontent has grown stronger. And no one seems able to predict how our carmakers will re-invent themselves for tomorrow.

Sadly, in this rush to avert disaster, other needy enterprises were forgotten. Because our domestic economy is diverse in nature, so also are its tribulations at this perilous moment in history. While the rescue is in progress, there are many other places to send aid and comfort. But making a value judgment about which sectors are more deserving than others is next to impossible. Jobs are needed everywhere.

For your inspection, here are a few more currently in need:


1. THE US POST OFFICE - Market conditions have not been kind to this dependable institution. Though the service has been able to transcend rain, heat, and gloom of night, budget deficits may hold the key to its demise. Last year, the Post Office recorded a $2.8 billion shortfall in revenue. Dire projections show that this may swell to $6 billion for the next year. As a partial remedy, Postmaster General John E. Potter has asked Congress to allow that mail deliveries be reduced to five days per week instead of six. Overall volume was down by more than nine billion items last year, the largest drop ever of customer use in postal history. Clearly, a delivery from Uncle Sam is needed to save this familiar part of American life.

2. DAILY NEWSPAPERS – The decline of print journalism has been thoroughly analyzed by experts and pundits across the nation. Ganett recently implemented a mass layoff for hundreds of employees in its community newspaper division. Even the venerable New York Times has been humbled by competitive forces. Many publications have reduced their staff in search of restored profitability, or tried to develop a useful Internet presence. Others have simply succumbed to fatigue. This is a noble tradition worthy of preservation. Herr Johannes Gutenberg would agree.

3. BROADCAST RADIO – Revenues have plummeted in this industry with competition from satellite providers and Internet sources capturing much of the market. Media giant Clear Channel recently eliminated nearly two thousand jobs, or nine percent of its national labor force. Cleveland radio personality Mike Trivisonno has been outspoken in advocating relief for the industry. “If the automakers deserve a bailout, then what about us?” he says. “Are our jobs any less important?”

4. TOBACCO – Anti-smoking measures across America have done much to advance the cause of clean air and better health. Yet the yield in economic terms has been devastating. Recently, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics classified tobacco production as one of our nation’s most rapidly declining industries. Political leaders have failed to recognize this unintended consequence of their actions. Help is needed from Washington now… to keep these jobs from going up in smoke!

5. BOOKSTORES – Once a meeting place for avid readers and intellectuals, these cultural outposts have dwindled in number since the advent of Internet technology. Independent book vendors from California to New York have closed their shops with frightening rapidity. Even the national chain Borders has run afoul of the market. A cash-infusion from the government would preserve these useful word-shops for future generations.

6. FILM PHOTOGRAPHY – Low cost, foreign-made digital cameras have become plentiful at every retailer across America. As a result, industry giant Kodak has eliminated 27,000 jobs in recent years, while reinventing itself as a 21st Century imaging company. This painful evolution may preserve its place in the market, but not without a harsh impact on unemployment figures. Fujifilm has admitted a similar slide in their worldwide business. Polaroid Corporation recently announced their intention to cease manufacturing film altogether. Without immediate federal aid, shutterbugs and professional lensmasters may find that photo film has disappeared, forever.

7. BAKERIES – Baking has been part of our culture since the days of George Washington and Ben Franklin. But industry trends have made the craft unprofitable and largely obsolete. Chain stores rarely offer ‘scratch’ products to their customers in the modern marketplace. Instead, frozen items made off-site are finished at the store level to trim costs and maximize profit. Apprentice bakers have declined in number, with potential job prospects disappearing. The specter of bland, mass-produced breads and pastries is looming over America. Only the power of our government can clear the national palate.

8. COMPUTERS – Technology companies have enjoyed a long period of sales growth and profitability. But with Microsoft planning to cut 5,000 jobs, this upward trend has reached its limit. It is the inevitability of market saturation in effect. Still, action from Capitol Hill could restore the lost luster of hi-tech components.

9. EYEGLASSES – Once a durable sector of the economy, manufacturers of prescription spectacles now face extinction because of laser surgery and the popularity of contact lenses. Big-name celebrities like Tiger Woods have helped accelerate this trend by promoting the use of LASIK techniques. Government aid could bring everything back into focus.

10. THE RECORD INDUSTRY – With sales of compact discs dropping steadily, the future of music as we have known it is in doubt. Internet ‘file trading’ has siphoned off revenue that used to sustain the business. The promotional value of being signed to a prominent label has been diminished as consumers have ditched their cumbersome CD collections. Modern buyers favor portable storage devices filled with downloaded tracks, and little else. The fanaticism of Beatles-era performers has all but vanished. Yet hope might reappear through a plug-in to federal aid. The rock could be made to roll, again!

The original bailout program endorsed by George W. Bush cost taxpayers $700 billion. President Obama’s ambitious stimulus plan is even more expensive. Both are strong remedies designed to strengthen the ailing economy. But neither measure seems likely to keep the nation from experiencing a painful period of recovery.

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I admit it: talk radio has always been a passion in the Icehouse. I've been hooked since listening to the 70's KDKA lineup of ROY FOX/JOHN CIGNA/PERRY MARSHALL. They covered the evening schedule, straight through till six o'clock in the morning. It was wall-to-wall conversation, every weekday from Pittsburgh.

In modern terms, WTAM satisfies my cravings with their own roster of local talent and syndicated hosts.

I made these images for the 'Mike Trivisonno Is The King Of Cleveland' fan group on Facebook: