Thursday, April 18, 2013

“Hamglaze Happening”

c. 2013 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

‘Back in black.’ Call it a matter of personal style.
On Easter Sunday, I attended the 10:30 a.m. worship service at Celebration Lutheran Church with my niece. Those who shared the event were dressed colorfully in green, gold, purple, pink, yellow and white.
But my own hue was less adventurous. I wore the solemn shade of midnight. Not as a statement of any kind, but simply because that was what I had in the laundry basket.
Pastor Laura called us to reflect upon the resurrection of Christ, and the blessed season of awakening nature. I drifted through memories of yonder days, while praying.
The ‘Children’s Sermon’ made me ponder my own age. It was easy to remember when turning thirty had sent chills over my skin. But now, that event echoed from over twenty years in the past. At fifty-one, the idea of youthful discovery seemed curious and quaint.
Still, I wanted to reflect, and recall that lost moment of innocence.
After the service was over, my niece headed straight to her parental home. But I decided to buy a cup of coffee at Geauga Gas & Grub, on Center Street, in Chardon.
I was only a few steps from the register when a voice called across the room. “Rod Ice! Yayyy, you have to sit with me for a moment!”
In a seat by the front window was my friend Carrie Hamglaze.
I struggled sit down, finally placing my chair at an angle to the table. “How are you, friend?”
“I am well,” she observed. “But what about you?”
“Bad knee,” I confessed. “Surgery helped for a while, but lately it has been stiff...”
“Welcome to senior living!” she cackled.
I noticed that she wasn’t wearing her usual red hat. And there was only a taster’s cup of Irish tea in her hand.
“Having today off was a complete surprise,” I confessed. “I’ve worked every Easter for many years. But they hired a new fellow at work. So here I am.”
Carrie smiled broadly. “I looked at the house you were interested in buying, at the bottom of North Hambden Street. A cute little bungalow. What did the realtor say about financing?”
“Never called them,” I admitted with a blush.
“Rodney!” she squawked, like an angry hen. “Things won’t get done if you don’t stay focused.”
“Right,” I agreed. “Maybe this week...”
“You heard about Joe Gall?” she interjected. “The laundromat owner?”
“No,” I said with shock. “What do you mean?”
Carrie tapped her nails on the tabletop. She took a folded piece of paper from her purse, and began to read:

“Joseph E. Gall, of Munson Township, died March 23, 2013, at University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center. He was 72. Born Nov. 1, 1940, in Vestaburg, Pa., to Joseph and Edith (nee Leffler) Gall, he had been a longtime area resident. Joe was the owner/operator of Chardon Laundromat in Marc's Plaza.
He is survived by his children, Debbie (Bob) Young of Rock Creek, Cindy Adams of Garfield Heights and Bill (Kim) Gall of Mantua; sister, Gloria (Richard) Rizzo; brothers, Albert, Ron (Linda) and Dan (Carol); 13 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; daughter Jodee Clarke; and grandson Jason Larson.”

I bowed my head in silence.
“My first wife worked for Joe at the laundromat, many years ago,” I reflected. “I remember him from my days at Kresse’s Bi-Rite, where Marc’s is located today. We were literally right across the parking lot from each other.”
“There is a makeshift memorial at his business,” she explained.
“Really?” I shouted.
“Flowers, photos, even drawings by the grandkids,” Carrie said.
My mood changed from sorrow to determination. “I’ve got to go over there. Get a few photos with my iPhone. Meditate for a moment. So many memories...”
“The Chardon that we remember is slipping away, one life at a time,” she mourned.
“My late father-in-law said that, many years ago,” I recalled. “He had come from Pennsylvania, just like Joe. ‘Pops’ remembered People’s Drug and King’s Grocery. He remembered the Chevrolet dealership downtown. So many things that were before my time. Now, I talk about Conley’s or Fisher’s Big Wheel, and young kids at work just stare.”
Carrie nodded. “Each generation has its precious memories.”
“Now it is up to us to make some new memories, before we go,” I declared. “To leave a legacy of some kind. For the next generation.”
My friend sipped her tea. “That’s why you need to call about that house! Come home to Chardon. We can always use another man on the team!”
“Spoken like a championship coach,” I laughed. “But tennis isn’t my game.”
“I’m talking about the game of life, Rodney,” she said. “You’ve been on the bench for long enough. It’s time to compete once more, and win!”
I finished my coffee as she got up from the table. Suddenly, Geauga Gas & Grub was filled with patrons heading home after Easter celebrations. Contrasting voices filled the air. In the background, a television program about aerobic exercise on the beach flickered without purpose. No one seemed to be watching.
“See you soon!” Carrie promised, as she headed out the door. “See you... at the Maple Festival!”

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

“Contest: Part Two”

c. 2013 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Note to Readers: The U. S. Postal Service has been a part of our national culture for many years. Yet its struggles have become well-known as social trends toward electronic communication and outside competitors have taken hold. Only YOU can save the Post Office. Do your part, and feel good about America!

In recent months, I organized a mail-in contest for Thoughts At Large, to help bolster local mail volume for our U. S. Postal service. It proved the genuine value of old-school communication, while demonstrating that readers of this newspaper are a diverse and intelligent group.
With that successful endeavor in mind, a new venture has come to mind.
Recent months have found this writer struggling with unanswered questions. Such open ended-projects are an unhappy burden. I want to clear them out of my office queue. But, how?
Once again, a most logical path to enlightenment seems to be – YOU.
So let me open a new contest for readers of this column:


Are you an innovator? A quick thinker? Good with your gray matter?
Help solve one or more of the following riddles, and win an autographed copy of the ‘Thoughts At Large’ book!

1.) Contacting the President – of Argentina. Her name is Christina Fernandez de Kirchner. Over the past few years, I have realized that she is quite possibly the most attractive head of state in the world. To be blunt, I think she is undeniably ‘sexy.’ I have occasionally thought that contacting her in some way would make a fantastic newspaper story. (I would certainly ask about Pope Francis, but would avoid any mention of the Malvinas/Falkland Islands.) How could I accomplish such a feat, despite my lack of Spanish-language ability?

2.) WondeRoast Chicken – A previous installment of TAL mentioned my personal search for this elusive, roasted bird. My closest recent encounter was through an Internet ad for Reider’s Fresh Market. Yet I continue to wonder - can a genuine sighting of this fowl can be confirmed? The company is based in Hopkins, Minnesota, and maintains a website with lots of information about their line of commercial ovens. Perhaps you have packaging or an ad for the product? Or a photo of it in the natural environment of a convenience store?

Extra credit for anyone who has an old photograph or materials relating to the WondeRoast birds that were sold right here in Geauga. Did you snap a picture at the Convenient Food Mart on Cherry Street, in Chardon, during the 1980’s? Perhaps you worked at the store and prepared those birds? Or had a party where they were served? Send in your entry, today!

3.) Genesee Bock – Everyone knows this blue-collar brand of beer. It has enjoyed a resurgence of popularity thanks to the reintroduction of classic logos, stubby bottle designs and flavors like “Twelve Horse Ale.” This seasonal product has recently been hyped all over Facebook and the Internet. Yet I haven’t found it locally since 2008. Have YOU seen the green-and-white can on the shelf at your favorite retailer? Prove it!

4.) Is there a Geauga County app for the iPhone? If not, why not? Geeks and software developers, this might be your chance to shine in the marketplace. This might be the untapped market you have been seeking. Send your ideas and I will write about them in this column.

5.) I have written on several occasions about the newspaper history of our county. The journalistic traditions born here have been powerful and prolific. Yet after years of searching, I have only a partial copy of one Geauga Republican issue in my personal collection. Somewhere out there among our readers, other such relics must exist. Have you seen any such artifacts for sale, here or abroad? Perhaps in a family collection or estate? Or, do you have photographs or reproductions of any kind in your personal archives? Send your information.

Submit your answers today!
Send your answers to: P.O. Box 365, Chardon, OH 44024.
The winner will be selected in a completely arbitrary fashion, by this writer. Results will be final, and published in this newspaper.
The winner will receive a hand-signed, first-edition copy of the “Thoughts At Large” book.

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Monday, April 01, 2013


c. 2013 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Newspaper columns can be inspired by all sorts of happenings. News developments, accidental encounters, or the most plain everyday event.
For this writer, a recent creative odyssey came from the purchase of a rotisserie chicken at my local grocer.
While taking the packaged bird from their warm case, I observed to the clerk on duty that my favorite roasted fowl was one seen in yonder days at Convenient Food Mart. It was spicy and red, prepared on-site and offered in a colorful foil bag. They called it ‘WondeRoast.’
“Not sure of the ingredients,” I confessed. “They used a dry rub of some kind, I think. I would guess with paprika, maybe even some cayenne pepper.”
My meal-time memory was from the 1980’s, before the clerk had been born. So she smiled with a polite apology.
“Really? Never heard of those,” she said.
“In those days, you would not find rotisserie birds at a local supermarket,” I explained. “They were a specialty item. I found them at the location on Cherry Street, in Chardon. If I happened to visit during the cooking cycle, an aroma of fresh chicken filled the store. It was difficult not to purchase at least two during every visit. Sometimes three!”
She looked at me with a sort of kind amusement normally reserved for senior citizens. “Have a nice day!”
In the checkout lane, I searched for a WondeRoast iPhone app. But it didn’t exist.
Typically, such episodes had ended with information and a creative burst of prose for my newspaper. But I had a sinking feeling that the WondeRoast story would be more complicated to uncover.
At home, I got on the office computer. Details began to emerge from the company profile, on their website:

“WondeRoast Incorporated is located at 11401 County Road 3, Hopkins, Minnesota, 55343.”

Reading their history helped to explain the unique heritage of this iconic food producer:
opkins, Minnesota,

 “WondeRoast was originally started as part of Hopkins Food Equipment, which was founded by Donald G. Larson in 1954, and which added the Electromatic Chef line in 1960. Later, that line became Ranch Roasted Products, then WondeRoast, which was then incorporated in 1975.”

The site offered details about their line of rotisserie ovens and warmer boxes. Plus, instructions and videos that explained how to prepare chickens and other products for sale. Not included were any details about the WondeRoast seasoning, or birds.
I stared at the screen with disbelief.
Another search for the roasting recipe took me to links, links and more links on the Internet. Yet without finding any useful information.
I felt stymied by the search for my long-lost lunch.
Further investigation yielded a variety of rotisserie rub recipes. I read through each one, hoping to find a suitable recreation of the long-lost WondeRoast chicken:

1) McCormick Perfect Pinch Rotisserie Chicken Seasoning – Salt, onion, paprika and garlic.

2) Roast Sticky Chicken Rotisserie Style – Salt, paprika, onion powder, thyme, white pepper, cayenne pepper, black pepper, garlic powder, onions.

3) Rotisserie Chicken Rub – Kosher salt, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, brown sugar, thyme, dry mustard, cayenne pepper, black pepper.

4) Sweet and Spicy Dry Rub – Brown sugar, thyme, kosher salt, paprika, granulated garlic, black pepper, cayenne pepper.

5) Peruvian Roasted Chicken – White vinegar, white wine, canola oil, garlic powder, paprika, cumin, black pepper, salt, lemon juice.

6) Touch of Dutch Natural Rotisserie Chicken Seasoning – Sea salt, cane sugar, paprika, onion powder, annatto, garlic, cayenne pepper, canola oil, natural hickory flavor, celery seed, chili powder, black pepper.

7) Lemon & Rosemary Marinade – Lemons, fresh rosemary, olive oil, garlic cloves.

8) French’s Rotisserie Chicken Seasoning Blend – Salt, dehydrated onion, chili pepper, dehydrated garlic, soy sauce, sugar, paprika.

9) Lawry’s Rotisserie Seasoned Chicken – Seasoned salt, seasoned pepper, olive oil.

10) Bumble Bee’s Rotisserie Chicken Seasoning – Smoked paprika, granulated garlic, celery salt, citric acid, red chili powder, sea salt, dark chili powder, marjoram, thyme, black pepper.

Finally, an ad for Reider’s on Fredle Drive in Concord appeared in a page of search results. It boasted about having the delicious WondeRoast chickens for 4.44, limit 5 birds.
I had to read the document twice.
My voice boomed in the empty house. “THAT’S THE CHICKEN!”
I retrieved my iPhone from the kitchen, and texted a friend who shops the store regularly, two or three times a month. She promised to check on the availability of this unique fowl.
Meanwhile, I began to write about the experience for my newspaper.
It was an open-ended piece, because I had not yet netted one of the elusive birds for my dinner table. I wouldn’t have a day off to visit the store for at least another week. But promise made me prolific.
I took an oath while still sitting at the desk. “WondeRoast, you will be mine!”

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