Friday, September 23, 2011

“Geauga in Print: Part Three”

c. 2011 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

It has often been said that each page of a newspaper represents a moment in history.

I was reminded of that truism once again, while continuing my search through the vast library of newspaper archives that is available online.

One might believe that a small corner of the world like Geauga County would have little to offer in this context. But, a quick read through the entries contained here will provide evidence that such a conclusion is false, indeed:

The Vindicator, November 7, 1992

“CHARDON, Ohio - The Geauga Times Leader is ceasing publication after 26 years, Thomson Newspapers Corp. has announced. The northeast Ohio daily newspaper will end with its edition today, said Michael W. Johnston, president and chief executive officer. It had a circulation of 8,700. ‘In recent years, we have made tremendous investments in the Chardon newspaper,’ Johnston said. ‘Unfortunately, despite gains in readership that have been made by the paper, poor financial success and limited prospect for improvement have forced the decision to close.’ The newspaper had 44 full time and part time employees. They were told of the decision Friday afternoon. Some of the staff will be transferred to other Thomson newspapers. Job workshops and career counseling was scheduled for other employees. ‘This is a sad day for all of us here, as I’m sure it is for our loyal readers and advertisers,’ said Pamela A. Stricker, publisher. The Times Leader was the only daily newspaper in Geauga County, one county east of Cleveland. The Times Leader was created over many years following the merger of weekly newspapers in Chardon, Middlefield and Burton. In 1955, the paper was bought by D. C. Rowley, who headed the Painesville Telegraph Co. The Times Leader bought the rival Geauga Record in 1962. It became Geauga County’s first daily newspaper in 1966. Less than a year later, a Saturday edition was started. A Sunday paper, in the form of a zoned edition of the Painesville Telegraph, was introduced in the mid 1970’s. In 1984, Rowley sold his group of newspapers to Dean Singleton’s MediaNews Group. Thomson Newspapers bought the Times Leader from Singleton in 1988. Chicago-based Thomson Newspapers owns 19 other Ohio newspapers.”

Youngstown Vindicator, November 30, 1957

“Chardon, Ohio – A proposal to live with his wife and mistress was advanced Friday by County Welfare Director James D. Lisle who has admitted fathering an illicit child of a 35-year-old divorcee. His offer came as he prepared a written reply to immoral conduct charges leveled by county commissioners who suspended him for 30 days on Monday. Lisle said he will hand them his defense letter, and said he intends to fight to the end for his $5,280 post. ‘I realize the conflict such an arrangement would face in a monogamous society,’ Lisle said, ‘and my wife and the other woman undoubtedly will not agree at first. But with understanding, they may come to change their feelings.’”

Ocala Star-Banner, October 14, 1954

“CLEVELAND – Sen. Thomas A. Burke yesterday became a victim of mudslinging – literally. The Ohio Democrat was discussing agriculture problems with a farmer in Geauga County while movie cameras recorded the scene. At a cameraman’s suggestion, several cows were lured into the background with stalks of corn to add authenticity. Then one cow departed unexpectedly from the script. She tried for a new grip on a particularly bothersome stalk and swished it over the ground, splattering Burke from head to toe with gooey, barnyard mud.”

The Painesville Telegraph, March 28, 1900

“COLLECTING EVIDENCE - William Martin of Chardon, has been at work during the past few days collecting samples of oleomargerine. As soon as the chemist finishes analyzing them, prosecutions will be commenced against the violators of the law. Mr. Martin is the deputy food inspector for this district and the farmers throughout the state have been making it so warm for the pure food department that they are forced to take some action in the matter.”

“OLEOMARGERINE DECISION – The decision by the supreme court in the case of State of Ohio against Henry Ransick, on error from Hamilton County, will interest a large number of persons. Ransick was a dealer in butter in Cincinnati and was arrested under the oleomargerine law. The butter he sold contained less than eighty percent, of fat and it was claimed that under the law named it came under the head of oleomargerine. Ransick set up the claim that it was pure butter and the lower court held that it was not oleomargerine and that decision has been confirmed by the supreme court. The case will be reported.”

Journalism is one of mankind’s most important and enduring activities. Because, through words written today, we will live on for our descendants, in the glow of tomorrow.

Comments about Thoughts At Large may be sent to:
Visit us at:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

“9-11, Revisited”

c. 2011 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Note to Readers: Historic anniversaries often make us look backward, and reflect upon the time that has passed. What follows here is the Maple Leaf column I wrote after the horrifying events of September 11, 2001. I had spent the day on duty as a Co-Manager for the Giant Eagle store in Chardon. Afterward, with wild rumors being repeated everywhere, I went home and began to write…

LIFE DURING WARTIME (September 12, 2001)

Everyone has their own perspective on historic events. Indeed, each of us might offer a unique view when considering the same timeline. Where were you… when news of JFK’s assassination was announced? When the hostages were seized in Iran? When Ronald Reagan was shot? The answers will reflect a variety of circumstances that color these happenings. America is a nation brimming with diversity. Different translations of identical facts add to the mix of daily life. Compare the following recollection with your own for evidence of such things:

For this writer, September 11th, 2001 awakened without special concern. Because of my work schedule, the morning began about half-past noon. With groggy remnants of sleep still in my eyes, I prepared coffee and toast. Vague thoughts of our computer made me frown. (A problem with the telephone line had kept us out of commission for an entire week!) In the Ice household, Tuesday had only begun. I stumbled down the basement steps, while taking inventory of personal duties. My checkbook had to be balanced, and an unsent e-mail for Keith R. Ball waited because of the technical woes. (I was in the midst of assembling a feature for his motorcycling website.) In addition, much yard work was waiting. None of this was more important than the immediate need to saturate my bloodstream with liquid caffeine!

I had been underground for only a minute when my wife called from upstairs, with disbelief clear in her voice. “Rod! There’s a message on the phone…” Her son had called from work that morning. “We’re under attack… turn on the television right now!!”

I literally ran for the living room. “Attack? From who??”

A strong mug of java couldn’t prepare me for the video feed from ABC news. My spouse was equally shocked. We sat motionless for a long time. Scenes of destruction and tragedy filled the screen. My eyes were burning. I could not escape feeling that it was a second coming of the attack that predicated our entry into World War II. Thoughts of the movie Independence Day were unavoidable. Also echoing were the notes of Life During Wartime, from the Talking Heads album Fear Of Music. There, David Byrne sang “This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no foolin’ around…” It was an eerie moment.

When composure returned, I wrote an electronic message to one of our friends who lives in New York City. A drummer by trade, he has enjoyed a career of session work with musicians in the area. My hands trembled as I wondered if he would be able to reply. A day later, his response said much about the uncertain mood that prevailed. “Thanks for your concern… my area is VERY quiet. It’s as though I’m much more than a mile-and-a-half away… as of yesterday, everything will be different.” Instead of signing the message with a regular salutation, he wrote the word ‘uneasily’ before his name. I was glad to know that he was safe, and well.

The following period of reflection produced a Geauga slant on this woeful occurrence. We shared thoughts of grief and sorrow with our friends across the county. Some were mystified by the evil acts that had transpired. Others saw the calamity as a visitation of dark forces. But all agreed that we had passed a milestone of great importance. There was no longer the luxury of ignorance to shield us from duty. A response of some sort had become inevitable. We were in a new age of uncertainty. The current battle was alive on domestic soil, not the loam of a distant republic. Thoughts of a tidy, sanitized conflict were gone with yesterday! In TIME Magazine, Lance Morrow offered a chilling perspective. “What’s needed is a unified, unifying, Pearl Harbor sort of purple American fury – a ruthless indignation that doesn’t leak away in a week or two.” It was as if the spirit of Roosevelt and Churchill had been aroused. (Modern parallels do not exist here.) Our way of life had been challenged by foreign enemies. No course remained except for a path directly to the heart of these angry foes!

A prayer for guidance echoed through our churches as the sunset fell upon September 12th. Ironically, this was my 40th birthday. I spent the night considering my entry into the world at Riverside Methodist Hospital, in Columbus. Mixed with such personal images were the graphic depictions of rubble from what had been the World Trade Center towers. I could not avoid comparing the progressive, post-war ebullience of my parents’ generation to modern conditions. It was a contrast of worlds. But a similar belief made both yesterday and today possible. And that steadfast devotion seemed likely to carry us toward the future. So the sight of horror in New York could not diminish our trust in national values. We remained sure of faith, family and friends at the close of Wednesday evening. These are treasures that will never disappear. In the end, such wonderful gifts transcend anything that reckless souls can manufacture.

Comments about Thoughts At Large may be sent to:
Visit us at:

Friday, September 09, 2011

“The Great Chardon Fire”

c. 2011 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

One familiar story for most Geauga County residents is that of the Great Chardon Fire of July, 1868. As a tragedy it remains unparalleled in local history. This woeful happening destroyed the village’s entire downtown area, including the courthouse which preceded our current capitol structure.

While doing newspaper research, I discovered that an article from the long-lost Chardon Democrat still existed, in the New York Times archives.

The prose used in this report was descriptive in a sweet and anachronistic way. The writer conveyed his sorrow in a genuine fashion, with naked emotion. To be sure, the art of journalism in that era differed greatly from modern, stream-of-consciousness detachment. While those of us in the 21st Century are able to fling words around the globe with abandon, our limited attention span often curtails the careful crafting of useful phrases.

This bygone report not only provided a history lesson, but it also highlighted how professional writing has evolved since the 1800’s:


The Entire Business Portion of Chardon, Ohio in Ashes – Loss Over $100,000

From The Chardon Democrat Extra, July 27

“On Saturday morning last, between 2 and 3 o'clock, a small fire was discovered in the rear and on the outside of J. O. TEED'S saddle and harness shop, where it adjoined PARLIN PARKIN'S store, and immediately after two others near by, the circumstances showing conclusively that they were all the work of an incendiary. The one first discovered spread so rapidly that, before many of our citizens were aroused from their slumbers, all efforts to extinguish it were abandoned. It soon swelled into an immense conflagration, spreading terror and destruction on either side. On, in their appalling course, swept the flames, gathering volume every moment, until they enveloped the whole line of the business blocks, from the Court House to the Democrat Office and Post Office. It was a grand and awful scene, such as we never again hope to witness. One building after another, with the certainty of fate, went down before the devouring element, until only a few blackened walls remained standing, and to-day, as we look out upon the dark waste where but so recently was our Main-street, the prospect is sad and desolate beyond description.”

A list of those who suffered losses in the fire followed this report:

J. O. Converse – Democrat Office and Post Office; $3,500 (?)
Rush & Harrison – hardware store & tinshop; $2,500 (combined)
A. Weaver – boot and shoe store; $3,500
E. A. Hayes – billiard room & saloon; $500
Canfield & Canfield – law office; $2,000
L. J. Randall – dry goods store; $8,000
J. U. Adams – boot & shoe store; $2,000
Mrs. M. A. Marsh – millinery rooms; $200
Eggelston & Brother – photograph gallery; $500
Hy. Chapman – rooms; $800
Tucker & Clark – grocery store; $2,000 ($1,000 insurance)
Parlin & Parkin – grocery & crockery store; $4,000 ($3,000 insurance)
Bestor & Tibballs – photograph gallery; $2,000
B. W. & H. F. Canfield – insurance agents; $100
Miss Caroline Parmele – dressmaker; $200
J. O. Teed – saddle & harness shop; $2,500 ($1,000 insurance)
Alph. Cook – drug store; $5,000 ($500 insurance)
Nichols & Parsons – drug store; $4,000 ($2,000 insurance)
W. S. Wright – jeweler; $200
Samuel Squire – dry goods & grocery store; $8,500
B. W. Canfield – clothing store; $2,000 ($1,000 insurance)
John Strohl – tailor; $100
I. N. Hathaway – law office; $800
E. D. Richardson – dental rooms; $1,000 ($800 insurance)
Murray & Canfield – bankers; $2,000
Robert Murray – dry goods store; $5,500 ($800 insurance)
J. F. Bruce – hardware & tin store; $3,000 ($1,200 insurance)
B. N. Shaw – shoe shop; $500
C. H. Marsh – tin shop; $2,000
Shaw & Shaw – dry goods store; $3,000 ($1,000 insurance)
D. C. Kellogg; $2,000 ($1,000 insurance)
Kelley Bros. – hardware, dry goods and groceries; $14,000
Joseph Ehrlich – dry & fancy goods; $100
R. P. Munsell – boot & shoe store; $1,500
Durfee & Stephenson – law office; $1,500 ($700 insurance)
Masonic Lodge; $2,000
I. O. O. F. Lodge; $2,000
A. J. Walton; $500
Court House; $30,000

One common theme became apparent upon reading their names – almost none of them had any insurance. The damage done to our county must have been staggering, indeed.

Fortunately, efforts to rebuild Chardon and erect a new Geauga County courthouse, the one we know and revere, commenced without delay.

We owe a sincere debt of gratitude to those stout souls from yesteryear. What they created in the aftermath of destruction was a thriving capitol center that has endured, ever after.

Comments about Thoughts At Large may be sent to:
Visit us at:

Friday, September 02, 2011

“P. C. Pardon”

c. 2011 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Most residents of Geauga County are familiar with the story of Peter Chardon Brooks. This erstwhile landowner from Massachusetts provided the property for our county seat, and was eternally honored in the process.

When I first came to town in 1983, I was immediately transfixed by the mural depicting Brooks’ story at Godfrey’s. (This establishment is now known as the Maple Leaf Restaurant.)

Though that painting is long gone, the tale continues to inspire local citizens.

Rick Bissell’s “Pardon My Chardon” Internet blog proves the point irrefutably.
Recently, I read his report of visiting P. C. Brooks’ grave, and was inspired by the unique adventure he described.

What follows here is the story itself, offered with Rick’s kind permission:

The Final Resting Place of Peter Chardon Brooks (edit)

A few years ago, I wrote an article for this blog about Peter Chardon Brooks and the history behind Chardon’s name: "On the Naming of Chardon." I wanted to include some information in that article about Mr. Brooks’ final resting place, but unfortunately wasn’t able to find any information about it… I’ve always felt that the article was slightly incomplete because of that missing piece of the puzzle. Today, thanks to a recent family vacation, I have that information.

My wife and I visited Boston several years ago in conjunction with a trip to Connecticut to visit relatives. This year, we decided to return, with one of our daughters, and we decided to drive so that we could spend a day in Concord before continuing on to Boston.

I was planning our agenda, and it occurred to me that we might have an opportunity to learn some more about Peter Chardon Brooks on this trip – perhaps even find his grave, which I assumed must be somewhere in, or near, Boston. Once again, I searched the Internet for information about Mr. Brooks and found a Wikipedia article which didn't list his grave site. This time, I also found a listing on which indicated that he was buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, in Medford, Massachusetts. I checked the map…we would be passing Medford on our way from Concord to Boston!

Having this piece of information, I went into full research mode. The findagrave site did not have a picture of his grave and did not show a map with its exact location, something we would need if we visited the cemetery. I searched the Internet for more information about Oak Grove Cemetery and found out that it is located adjacent to a noteworthy piece of property – The Brooks Estate! I discovered that the Brooks family has lived in Medford since the 17th century. You can read more about the estate here at I also found contact information for the cemetery on the Medord city website.

Having this, I sent emails off to the Brooks Estate and to the cemetery. The Brooks Estate did not return my email, which was very disappointing. I had better luck with the cemetery. The helpful proprietor replied to my email and confirmed that Mr. Brooks was indeed buried in the cemetery, and gave me the plot number. He said that I should be able to get a map at the office and find it pretty easily. I filed this information away for our trip.

After a pleasant day in Concord, we headed into Medford, a pretty town about 30 minutes away. A GPS is a wonderful thing…we found the cemetery on Playstead Rd, and found the office located just inside the gate. I asked a fellow behind the desk for the location of Peter Chardon Brooks, assuming that he would know it off the top of his head, but it didn’t seem to be noteworthy to him, and he pulled out a box filled with index cards and started flipping through them, looking for the grave. There was a bit of confusion for a few minutes, and for a moment I thought we were in the wrong place. Apparently, the original grave was located at the Salem Street Burial Ground, which is Medford’s oldest cemetery, but was recently relocated to Oak Grove. The man confirmed that there was a family plot that had Mr. Brooks, his wife, and his children. He pulled out a map and showed me how to find it. We got in the car and went looking for Peter Chardon Brooks.

Oak Grove is a very large and beautiful cemetery…I wish that we could have had more time to explore it.

As you can see, the headstone looks to be fairly new, with little weathering; it is obviously not the original headstone from the Salem Street burial ground.

We had a wonderful time on this trip, and finding the grave of Peter Chardon Brooks was definitely one of the more interesting things that we did. Standing at his grave, I had to wonder how many “Chardonites” (if any) have stood here before me, thinking about the man who generously donated some of his property in the Western Reserve for the foundation of a town that would bear his middle name - a town that he never got to see.

I took out a small stone that I had brought with me from the Chardon square and gently placed on his headstone. “Thanks for the town…” I said.

Peter Chardon Brooks is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, 230 Playstead Road, Medford MA, at Plot 212, Grave 1, on Oak Ave. Rick Bissell’s blog is at:

Comments about Thoughts At Large may be sent to:
Visit us at:

Thursday, September 01, 2011

CAR SPOTTER: 1964 Ford Econoline Pickup

For sale on Route 6 in Chardon: a stunning, yellow 1964 Ford Econoline Pickup. Amazingly, the window tag says it carries a 429 V-8 motor!

Bill Spear used to be the Chrysler-Plymouth dealer in Chardon. Currently, he offers only tractors. But on occasion, passing motorists get to see classic vehicles like this: