Monday, October 31, 2016

Hugh & LeBron: Great rebounders

Top BJ rebounder Hugh Downing
Retired BJ printer Hugh Downing sat on his patio in The Villages, Florida, soaking in the sunshine, and said:

“Tell everyone at the Beacon that I’m hanging in there.”

Indeed, when it comes to rebounding, Hugh is the LeBron James of health issues.

Hugh is rehabbing at home after open heart surgery and defibrillator installation.

Wife Sharon, the gal from Galion, Ohio, is at his side, as she has been since they wed in 1960. They lived in Medina when Hugh was a BJ printer. After his retirement they moved in 2000 to The Villages.

Hugh and Sharon were a big help to Paula and me since we first showed up in The Villages in 2013. Decades ago, my late wife, Monnie Turkette Olesky of Cinderella, West Virginia, and I got together with Hugh and Sharon on Siesta Key, adjacent to Sarasota, Florida, when Hugh and Sharon were staying in the late printer Bill Gorrell’s former Poor Bill’s rentals just across the street from the beach and the Gulf of Mexico.

Before that, of course, Hugh and I exchanged pleasantries at Ol’ Blue Walls, including when he was working in the APS-4 computer room in Composing.

Sometimes Hugh would come tooling to 1970s BJ State Desk reporter Paula Stone Tucker’s home in Lady Lake, Florida in Sharon’s 1995 Honda del Sol convertible with a big smile on his face.

Hugh and Sharon’s children are Mark Downing, who lives in Erie, Pennsylvania; Chris, who lives in Hudson; Ben and Jonathan, who lives in Toledo and Vienna, Virgnia. The four sons and
their wives have provided Hugh and Sharon with seven grandchildren.

Sharon is active in several sports in The Villages.

If you want to send Hugh a get-well card, their address is:

Hugh & Sharon Downing

17900 S.E. 87th Bourne Ave.

The Villages, FL 32159.

His phone number is (352) 259-7556.


Monday, October 24, 2016

Forrest Gump is a Tribe fan

Actor Tom Hanks loves Cleveland. On a recent visit to the Cleveland suburb of Lakewood, Hanks made it known that he's a huge fan of one of Lakewood's pizza places. Apparently, Hanks is also a fan of the Cleveland Indians.

Hanks hosted “Saturday Night Live” this weekend and, after thanking Lady Gaga and Alec Baldwin at the close of the show, Hanks showed his support to the Cleveland Indians by shouting out:
"Thanks everybody! Go Tribe!"

Hanks, who won another Oscar for his title role in the “Forrest Gump” movie, is no stranger to Cleveland. He started his career as an intern with the Great Lakes Theater Festival at Lakewood Civic Auditorium.
As for Gump on the World Series: “Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
I mean, who dreamed that the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago Cubs, who between them have not won a World Series in a combined 186 years, would be seeking the Holy Grail of baseball.

When the Cubs won, the President was Teddy Roosevelt, in 1908! When the Tribe won, Harry Truman was giving ‘em hell from the Oval Office, in 1948.

For those challenged in math, that’s 118 years (!) since the Cubs were World Series champs. Which makes the Indians, at 68 years, seem like pikers.
And the cherry on top would be that 1948 was the only year that Cleveland had TWO champions – the Indians and the Cleveland Browns, back when they weren’t the joke of the NFL.
So all kinds of dramatic happenings await the 2016 World Series.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

David Hertz and Beth Thomas Hertz are celebrating their 23rd wedding anniversary today.

David was at the BJ for 15 years, Beth for 4 years.

Writes David:

Happy 23rd anniversary to my utterly fascinating and captivating wife, Beth Thomas Hertz. It's easy to lose track of how much fun life is with someone when you are rushing to complete the daily tasks tugging at you. But we are having a wonderful time with amazing, huggable kids! Thank you Beth for all you do for me, Alyssa Sandra Hertz and Joshua Daniel Hertz. Not to mention our extended family and community. You are the best and I love you very much”
They had an office romance, the “cute redhead copy editor” and David. Their wedding was at the Civic Theatre where their BJ friends showed up to applaud.
David left the BJ to become a vice president in the media relations department of Dix & Eaton in Cleveland. At 44 E. Exchange Street David was night metro editor, deputy business editor, region editor, business editor, metro editor and enterprise editor. He came to the BJ after 5 years in Knight-Ridder’s Boca Raton, Florida newspaper.
Beth was at the BJ from February 1991 to November 1995 in several jobs including page layout and design. She became managing editor in the Communications Department at the Cleveland Clinic. After six years, she left to be a full-time freelance writer.
They live in Copley, where Alyssa and Josh attend school.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Cathy meandering through Morocco mountains

Cathy Tierney is enjoying Morocco, one of the favorite trips for me among the 155 countries that I visited.

Olesky had to really suck in his gut
 when this guy ambled through
In my case, the thrill came when I had to flatten myself against the wall to avoid getting my toes trampled by a donkey carrying goods for sale at a Morrocan market in Medina. The space between the tents only left enough room for a burro loaded down with products and a Mountaineer who glued himself to the outside of one of the vendor’s tents.

Cathy reports:

“Wifi is spotty, so Pixs will be slow in coming. I spent the whole day traveling over the Middle Atlas Mountains today -- an adventure. Tomorrow will be heading to the Sahara camp -- probably no wifi. As for the camp, no roads, no people except an occasional nomad -- camping where few foreigners come, along routes known only to camel and goat-herding Tuareg nomads ... travel only in 4 x 4 vehicles and camels, of course.......what an adventure!”

Indeed, Cathy. Not the usual place for a BJ librarian, even the chief librarian.

Cathy also has visited Vietnam and Cambodia, probably Thailand, the #1 country on my list of visits (amazing people, amazing Buddha statues). And Egypt, where Paula and I also saw the Giza Pyramids, floated down The Nile River and saw amazing temples where the wall markings looked like they were put there yesterday even though they were centuries old -- two weeks before the Arab Spring revolution broke out!

In our case, our trip included Spain (and my hero, Don Quixote, since I also have spent my life tilting at the windmills of injustice), Portugal (and Vasco de Gama) and Morocco, with the Rock of Gibraltar as a bonus although there are mountains in my native West Virginia that dwarf The Rock.

By the way, in Morocco, there’s a Rick’s Place every other block. Guess “Casablanca” and Humphrey Bogart are a big hit there.
Meander marvelously ‘mongst Morocco mountains, Cathy. It’s a lot different than Ol’ Blue Walls!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Rebecca Allen, John Dunphy
That's not their house in the background
9th wedding anniversary for John Dunphy

Former BJ reporter John Dunphy and Rebecca Allen are celebrating their 9th wedding anniversary today in California, where they live in Lakewood.

Writes John:
Married this lovely woman nine years ago today. I'm a very lucky and grateful guy!”
Harry and Angela Dunphy begat John, Steve Dunphy (who lives in Seattle), Harry Dunphy, Sister Patricia Dunphy, Maureen Dunphy Welling, Paul Dunphy, Peter Dunphy, Dennis Dunphy and Christine Dunphy Barnett.  
John begat Kevin Dunphy.
John is contributing editor at Southland Golf and a former reporter for the Orange County Register in California. John is a Cincinnati Xavier University graduate from New York City.

Former BJ op-ed editor/editorial board member Bob Springer, who slinked off to Kent State for a decade or so to savor academia, will be on MSNBC cable channels’ "In Other News: Lost in the Looting” at 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15 to talk about Jeffrey Dahmer, who shot into fame by killing and cannabilizing people.

Springer got a free trip to New York City for the taping. But I’ll let Bob tell you how it went down:
A woman named Kim Kantner, a producer for an LA company called Karga 7 Productions, contacted Joe Thomas asking whether any of the ABJ folks involved in the Dahmer case were still around. He gave her a few names and numbers, including mine.

“Ms. Kantner contacted me last spring, whilst I was on my way back to Ohio from Oregon. She asked me a bunch of questions about the day Dahmer came to Akron to plead guilty and be sentenced for killing Steven Hicks, the first of Jeffrey's 17 murders and his only one in Ohio.

“I yakked a bit about how I'd gone to Milwaukee the summer day that Dahmer's gruesome apartment refrigerator was discovered and that I'd covered his trial that next February.

“So she called me back a week or so later and asked whether I could travel to NYC at her expense for an interview in early June about it all. She explained that she and Karga 7 were working for MSNBC for a new show called ‘In Other News.’ She said it would be a show with three separate segments about newsworthy stuff that happened at the same time as some other, bigger news event. She'd picked the weekend after the Rodney King verdict and riots in LA -- which happened to include Dahmer in Akron for the Hicks killing. The show premieres this Saturday, Oct. 15, at 9 p.m. Eastern, on MSNBC.

“She interviewed me for about an hour and a half in a hotel ballroom in Manhattan with a camerawoman and a floor director present as well as an intern. They had to turn off the air-conditioning to stop the humming from screwing up their audio. The klieg lights were unbearable and I had a coat and tie on. So I'm sure I'll look as uncomfortable as sweaty old Nixon during his first debate with JFK. I have no recollection of all the things I said. 

“Ms. Kantner (who, by the way, is the niece of the recently departed Jefferson Airplane founder Paul Kantner, which I found to be verrry shagadellic, baby) said she also interviewed then-Summit County Prosecutor Lynn Slaby and Dahmer's Philadelphia lawyer (whose name escapes me) for the segment.”

Olesky note: Robert Mozenter handled Dahmer’s criminal trial, wife and partner Joyce Mozenter took Dahmer’s civil case.

Bob continued:

“I also took some photos of the Summit County Courthouse, the county jail and Fulton-Akron Airport for her, but I don't know whether she used any of those.

“That's about all I know. I suspect I'll show up for about 45 seconds' worth of the segment, in which I likely will say something completely embarrassing to me and everyone who knows me. How's that for humility?

“Meantime, go Mountaineers, Go Cubs and Go Tribe!!”

West Virginia is my alma mater and I’ve had season tickets to football at Mountaineer Field for two decades (Mountaineers won their first 4 games this season).

The Cubs and Indians, if they meet in the World Series, would have a combined 175 years (!!!!) without winning the danged thing. The Cubs haven’t won the World Series since 1908 -- 107 years. Cleveland hasn’t won since 1948 – 68 years.

And if the Indians win the World Series, it will be the first time since 1948 that Cleveland teams have won major pro championships in the same year. Paul Brown’s Cleveland Browns won their third straight All-American Football League title in 1948.

Dahmer is the Revere High School grad who killed one in Ohio and the others in Wisconsin. He was beaten to death in 1994 by a prisoner.

Milwaukee Civic Pride organization paid more than $400K to buy Dahmer’s possessions and bury them in an Illinois landfill. The money was divided among the families of 11 Dahmer victims.

Bob came to Kent State in 2008 as an academic adviser after 19 years at the Beacon Journal as a copy editor, reporter and, for his final 14 years, as the Op-ed editor and member of the editorial board. 

He is a Southern Illinois journalism graduate who also worked at the Rocky Mountain News, the Denver Post and the weekly Center (Colorado) Post-Dispatch.

Things more important that the $$$ figure on your paycheck

I know it’s fashionable for union employees to bash management for not giving them enough in their paycheck. I was as guilty as anyone else.

But you have to look at the total package.

The AARP Supplemental and Personal Health Plan that the BJ pays the entire premium for those who won the healthcare lawsuit against the Beacon (45 printers and 5 Guild retirees, including me) issued the premium costs to BJ management for 2017:


Apiece for those of us still alive. If all 50 were alive, that would come to


But some of the lawsuit winners have since passed away. But even at, say, $90K, that’s a big chunk of change for the BJ.
That's just for supplemental coverage. Medicare provides the 80% first whack at your bills, costing you about $1,300 a year. AARP Supplemental attacks most of the other 20%.
In my case, after winning the lawsuit against the BJ, with $2 prescription co-pay for every prescription (including those that run $300+ for 30 days), including the Medicare Part B premium my total out-of-pocket medical costs are about $2,000 a year. A bargain in today's soaring medical costs.

During Guild negotiations with the BJ when I was at Ol’ Blue Walls, I always sided on the side of benefits vs. expansive pay raises, because tomorrow’s dollars are always more valuable than today’s dollars.

Here’s the proof.

Thank you, BJ, for making it possible for us to live out our lives without plunging into poverty over medical costs. Also, thank you, Chandra Law Firm in Cleveland, for winning the healthcare lawsuit for us. And, thank you, the late Dave White, for starting this process on a beach in Florida when you got pissed off because the BJ reneged on its promise to you.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

There were 27 former and current BJ employees at Sunday’s party at Papa Joe’s on Akron-Peninsula Road.

There were a lot of smiles, laughter and recollections of their days in Ol’ Blue Walls.

Retired photographer Ott Gangl led a German beer drinking song with wife Ann at his side.

Tom Moore, daughter Amy
George Davis, who covered Stark County for the BJ for decades, was there with wife Murleen.

Roger Mezger was there with wife Ann.

Al Fitzpatrick, involved in Knight-Ridder’s attempts to increase staff diversity for decades, was at Papa Joe’s with his wife and daughter for dinner. He heard familiar voices and came in and chatted from table to table.

Retired photographer Bill Hunter brought photos from the old days. I brought one of the three lights I have from the old BJ tower, after it was torn down (I also have a brick from that hallowed tower).

It was good to share a meal again with Bob Dyer, who has been named Ohio Columnist of the Year so many times that I've lost count. For two decades we were BJ Blue Room food buddies. Bob has since switched to brown-bagging it. Probably a good health move.

Bob, Hunter and Charles Montague gravitated toward each other and the same table, and I'm sure some interesting conversation bounced around there.

Tom Moore took time off from being a conductor on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad to show up with his daughter, Amy.

Mike Williams, who survived ad makeup life with the late Johnny Grimm, was there with wife Jane Speiss Williams. They'll be heading to Chile via a cruise soon. As Jane reported:  "Nice group. Lots of stories shared."

The late Fran Murphey's name came up in some of the tales of the good ol' days. So did the late Connie Bloom, who went from Features Department editor and pet columnist to Ohio's premier fabric art (guilt) guru.

Retired reporter Russ Musarra came without his wife, Beverly, who was busy with other commitments.

Betsy Lammerding, my former Features Department co-worker, also was there.

So were retirees from the Finance Department, Neil Sheinin and wife Cheryl Scott Sheinin and others. That's Neil talking to Betsy in the photo montage.

Mark Price, who does excellent writing about the history of our area, found a perfect place to party -- surrounded by folks who ARE a part of BJ history.

The common refrain: We need to do this more often.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Tribe postponed; room for late-comers at tonight's BJ party

I have 34 RSVPs for the Beacon Journal get-together at 7 p.m. Sunday, October 9 at Papa Joe’s Restaurant, 1561 Akron-Peninsula Road (where it meets Cuyahoga Falls’ Portage Trail Extension).

I booked the room where we held our monthly BJ retirees lunches for years till too many died. It can hold 45 people, and the Indians' playoff game was postponed to Monday, so last-minute arrivals are welcome.



Curt Brown

George Bing Davis

Murleen Davis
Mick Dimeff

Bob Dyer
Mary Davidson Ethridge
Jean Fahey
Joe Fahey
Laura Walker Fulp
Ott Gangl
Ann Gangl
Ray Habyan
Barb Heller
Bill Hunter
Christine Klecic
Art Krummel
Betsy Lammerding
Karen Chuparkoff Lefton
Roger Mezger 
Ann Sheldon Mezger
Charles Montague
Charlene Nevada
Tom Moore
Tom Moore’s daughter
Russ Musarra
John Olesky
Mark Price
Denny Richards
Don Roese
Sherry Shaffer
Cheryl Scott Sheinin
Neil Sheinin
Mike Williams
Jane Williams 

This is for ALL BJ departments, and for retirees AND current Beacon employees.

Want to party? This is the one you don’t want to miss!
John Olesky (BJ 1969-96)
World traveler for 20 years,
back home to party!


Current PD and former BJ pop culture critic Mark Dawidziak will be in Elmira, New York on Saturday, October 8 for a symposium based on "Mark Twain and Youth: Studies in His Life and Writings" at the Center for Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College.

A dazzling, dizzingly doozy dozen of America’s greatest Mark Twain scholars will be featured, which explains why Dawidziak is there with the most appropriate first name among the scholars, although I suspect Dawidziak’s parents were thinking more of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John than Twain when they named him.

After all, Mark’s brothers include New Yorker and Mark’s twin Michael (as in the Archangel who chased the Devil to Hell) and Californian Joseph (as in the guy who accompanied the Virgin Mary to the stable for Christ’s birth). Another brother, Scott, is deceased.

As famed documentary filmmaker Ken Burns once wrote: “Nobody gets Mark Twain the way Mark Dawidziak does.” I agree.

In a weird twist that out-does the Dorian Gray portrait in the attic in a good way, Dawidziak looks more and more like Mark Twain as he ages and performs the fantastic humorist on stage in the Akron area and around the country, including in Twain’s final resting place of Elmira (I’ve visited Twain’s grave, alongside his family members, in Elmira, just as I’ve visited grave sites and former work places of nearly 100 authors around the world in my travels to 55 countries and 44 states).

Kevin MacDonnell and R. Kent Rasmussen, editors of the 2016 book, "Mark Twain and Youth," will co-chair the event. Jon Clinch, author of “Finn” and “Kings of the Earth,” is the keynote speaker.

Dawidziak’s Twain twack includes “Mark Twain’s Guide to Diet, Exercise, Beauty, Fashion, Investment, Romance, Health and Happiness,” "Mark Twain in Ohio," "Mark My Words" and "Mark Twain on Writing." 

PD/BJ Mark was at the Elmira Twain Studies in January to celebrate the Mark Twain Commemorative Coin Program where he became Twain again with yet another performance.
He also plays Twain at the drop of an unlit cigar in Northeast Ohio and around the country. He gives Hal Holbrook a run for his money when it comes to Twain impersonation.

Dawidziak came to the BJ from Tennessee in 1983 and grew up on New York City’s Long Island. He is married to Sara Showman Dawidziak, who often performs with Mark when they’re not at their Cuyahoga Falls home.

I’ll let Samuel Langhorne Clemens have the last word, as usual:

There are basically two types of people. People who accomplish things and people who claim to have accomplished things. The first group is less crowded.”

Mark Dawidziak is among the thinner crowd. I am proud to have him call me his friend. And thrilled to have worked alongside him at Ol’ Blue Walls.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Somebody put a GPS chip into Tom Marvin, former BJ photographer, Ridgewood School District transportation supervisor and Monroe Township trustee who lives on a farm in Guernsey County, just north of Salt Fork State Park, near I-77 and north of Cambridge.

When he stays there, that is.

On September 30, Tom and Kay celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary at a restaurant in nearby Cambridge, where east-west I-70 and north-south I-77 cross paths.

A few days later, they are in Golf Shores, Alabama having “a great dinner” (Tom’s words) with wife, Kay Ann Shaffer Marvin, and sister, Marty Marvin Stiner.

Tom darn near worn out one camper before he sold it, traveling to Yosemite National Park and roaming all over Alaska. They put in nearly 20,000 miles.
Even former BJ photographer Don Roese, no slouch himself when it comes to campers and traveling Alaska for months on end, gets a run for his money from Tom.

Tom and Kay have seven children between them. His are Steve Marvin, a bank assistant vice president who lives in Cambridge; Brian Marvin, who lives in Worthington, Ohio and is a Reynoldsburg, Ohio police detective; Misty Bellon, a registered nurse living in Eunice, Louisiana, who is married with a son, Nick; and Beth Marvin Stevens, a Los Angeles attorney, from Tom’s marriage to former BJ staffer and retired Hoover High School English and journalism teacher Pam McCarthy.

Kay’s children are Tim Wilson, an electric company forester in Florida; Debi Geese, who lives in Fresno, Ohio and is married with two children; and Brett Wilson, a contractor in Coshocton.

Tom and Kay have eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

And, apparently, a lot of time to travel around this great country of ours, including a flight to Hawaii for their 25th wedding anniversary.

Tom retired from the BJ in 2001. Later, from the Ridgewood school district. His feet haven’t touched the ground since.

Quips Tom: “We travel a bit.” Ya think? They have been to all 50 states.

Hell, I think I’m a guy who gets around and I’ve been to only 44 states.

(But, Tom, you may need to spread your wings more if you want to catch up to me and the 55 countries that I’ve visited.)
Once we leave Ol' Blue Walls, the world is, indeed, our oyster.

I was at Papa Joe’s restaurant on Akron-Peninsula Road (at the Portage Trail Extension intersection) to check whether there’s a cable plug-in for the room we’ll be using for the 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 8 BJ party in the adjoining room, and heard someone calling my name.

It was Abe Zaidan, one of the most adroit political columnists in BJ history, sitting at a table with Ron Kirksey, former BJ editorial writer who went to Kent State as media relations director, and former BJ news editor and editorial department member Dave Boerner’s widow, Phyllis Boerner.

Naturally, I whipped out my Apple iPhone6 to take a photo, but I didn’t back up far enough so Ron didn’t make the photo (all you see on the left is Ron from his belly button to his shoes). I cheated and used a BJ Alums blog article head shot of Ron for an inset.

They seemed to be having a great time. When I told them I would have my 84th birthday on Nov. 5, the unanimous reaction from all around the table was: “You’re just a kid.” Everything depends on your vantage point in life, huh?
Ron recovered long ago from his 2005 bladder cancer surgery, with help from Akron General Medical Center, where I had just had my periodic Pacemaker checkup (“Mr. Olesky, you look perfect,” said the nice lady who plugged me into the computer and printed up an impressive array of graphs. She added: “Keep doing whatever you’re doing,” which is playing golf 3 times a week, traveling and being with my No. 1 love, Paula Stone Tucker, once my reporter when I was assistant State Desk editor).

Dave passed away in 2013. We shared many a meal together at Papa Joe’s in the room where the BJ party will be on Sunday. I was there to see if there was a cable hookup outlet in the room, so that I could bring a rented TV for those who wanted to watch the Indians’ playoff game with the Red Sox, which starts at 4 p.m., but there is no cable hookup outlet in the room. Well, I tried.

But those who come to the party – 38 RSVPs so far – can watch the Indians playoff game, if it’s still going on, at the bar where there are two TVs.

Dave and Phyllis have two sons, Trent and Troy. Another son, Eric, passed away in 2006.


Abe collaborated with another Ol’ Blue Walls escapee, John Green, to write the 2007 book, “Portraits of Power: Ohio and National Politics, 1964-2004,” which still applies in this year’s Presidential election, when Ohio’s 18 electoral votes are the prize that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have their eyes on. Since 1944, Ohioans have sided with the losing candidate only once – opting for Nixon over Kennedy in 1960.

Abe has two Internet blogs about politics, Grumpy Abe -- -- and Plunderbund --!/Plunderbund?fref=ts . Liberals love both. Conservatives hate them. Abe is no fence-straddler.

The late State Desk legend, Harry Liggett, once posted on this blog: “If you type the word ‘Zaidan’ in the search box, you are asked the question, ‘Did you mean Satan?’ “ Who knew that Google was a right-winger? J

Scott Scarborough is no fan of Abe, either. Abe’s withering wit about the $1 million spruce-up that SS engineered when he was University of Akron president was among the cannonades that blew Scarborough out of that job and personal castle.