Readers' Opinions

Congratulations to our 'small town' newspaper

Congratulations to the Westlake | Bay Village Observer on its fifth anniversary – five years of serving this area with community news, coming events and other features – as reported by those involved in the news, the events and the features.

In a day when other newspapers are going out of business – at least in paper form, or reducing their paper editions, Denny and Tara Wendell made the Observer the go-to place for news, views and articles of special interest to area readers – serving them well. It’s also the place for its many advertisers to reach their customers with their ads for products and services for its readers.

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Volume 5, Issue 17, Posted 9:55 AM, 08.20.2013

Happy Birthday, Observer

I have read community newspapers from Florida, Pennsylvania and a few other places. In my opinion, the Westlake | Bay Village Observer is really nice to read. I enjoy short, to-the-point articles that give you local news and events. Another nice feature is the advertisers are folks that live or have their business in this area.

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Volume 5, Issue 17, Posted 10:00 AM, 08.20.2013

True Bay pride

Bay High School has closed its books on another successful academic year. But, the success of this particular student body transcends that of the daily studies of English, history, math and science. What this group of young men and women accomplished in the last month of their high school careers is awe inspiring.

Back in May, a student started a Twitter page on which they posted cruel and hurtful comments about other students. This is as much as I will say about the incident, because this is not what this article is about. More importantly, this article is about the reaction of the students and the way they handled the situation.

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Volume 5, Issue 14, Posted 9:56 AM, 07.09.2013

Better safe than sorry in stormy weather

It's smart to prepare yourself before severe weather forecasts are broadcast. Listen to the radio or TV. Make sure you have batteries for flashlights and charge your cell phones. OK, now you're all set. What about your children? Since we don't have storm sirens, your children should carry their cell phones with them when they're at the skate park or playground.

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Volume 5, Issue 13, Posted 10:37 AM, 06.25.2013

Voices

The family and I were seated in a crowded waiting area at Hopkins Airport. My oldest son was returning from a graduation trip to Europe. We were laughing and chatting while waiting for the plane to land.

Suddenly, a young man about 30 years old came charging around the seats and said, "Hi, Mr. Leigh." I was startled. Who was this young man who knew my name? I sure didn't recognize him.

When he introduced himself I realized he was one of my Boy Scouts from years ago. He was now an elementary school principal. I asked him how he recognized me after all these years. He said, "I recognized your laugh."

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Volume 5, Issue 12, Posted 10:48 AM, 06.11.2013

Cape Point trip filled with shipwrecks and baboons

Did you know Cape Point is the most southwesterly point on the Africa continent? My family stayed in a cottage there a couple of weeks ago and it was so much fun! Over 500 years ago, Bartholomew Dias was trying to find a route to Asia from Europe and discovered Cape Point. He called it the Cape of Storms because sailors found the seas to be dangerous. It is also known as the Cape of Good Hope.

I learned that there were a lot of shipwrecks along the beaches. We took a hike and saw some of the shipwrecks. The ships were old and rusty, and broken up into many pieces. One of them looked like a fisherman’s boat and another one was a U.S. ship from World War II. The WWII ship’s name is the S.S. Thomas T. Tucker. That ship was sailing close to shore because the crew didn’t want the German submarines to find them. It wrecked because of the rocks. Even though the trail was very, very long and hot, it was awesome to see. It made me think that sailing must be tough at Cape Point.

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Volume 5, Issue 11, Posted 10:08 AM, 05.29.2013

The Bridge

There is a bridge that crosses over the First River in Stellenbosch, South Africa. I can see it from my house. People walk and drive over it everyday, going to their jobs, going out to eat or going home. But under the bridge, there are people who don’t have anywhere to go. They are homeless. They are hungry. They live there.

I have met so many people who are homeless. One person I met is Martin. He had open sores all over his hands and arms and was very, very skinny. His face looked sad, sweaty and tired. He told my mom that he had AIDS and was in so much pain. He asked for money because he needed treatment. My mom doesn’t normally give money, just food, but Martin started crying and said that he was dying.

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Volume 5, Issue 10, Posted 10:21 AM, 05.14.2013

The Concrete Chronicles, part III: Corrosion

Having decided on a theme and come up with a goal for my garden in progress, I knew the most important part was having a place to sit and enjoy it. Therefore, I set out to find two chairs and a table. In keeping with my English garden theme I wanted them to be wrought iron, to be small enough to fit on the balcony but sturdy enough to withstand wind, rain and the inevitable northeast Ohio winters. In this I ran upon a problem: Most of what is available in stores is not wrought iron, but rather flimsy metal substitutes.

So I abandoned the stores and went antiquing instead. One of the best tips I can give anyone who is looking to decorate any area of the home, indoors or out, is to hunt through antique stores. The items you will find are often better than anything currently on the market (at least for reasonable prices), and they are built to last (they made it this far, right?).

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Volume 5, Issue 10, Posted 10:29 AM, 05.14.2013

Remembering Emma

Her death notice would have caught my eye even if I had not known Emma Meluch. After noting her age (94) and her surviving family, the May 1 notice said she was "instrumental in the passage of two Westlake Charter Amendments.” 

I first met Emma when I moved to Westlake 18 years ago and transferred my League of Women Voters membership to the chapter here to which she belonged. Right away I learned that Emma was an astute person, well informed on what was happening or about to happen in city government. I lost touch with Emma when she was no longer able to attend League meetings, so I missed my chance to let her know personally that she was inspiring to me. But it is not too late to take notice of Emma’s legacy to good government by telling a little of her story.

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Volume 5, Issue 10, Posted 10:19 AM, 05.14.2013

Favorite Shirt

It's still one of my very favorite shirts. It is a Levi's long-sleeve denim with metal buttons and the small red Levi tag on the front pocket. I bought it at the GAP many years ago.

I looked "urban cool" when worn with a just-pressed pair of khakis and "spit-shined" round-toe cordovan shoes.

It got faded, old and worn but I could not put it in the Goodwill donation bag. I still loved it so, even with all its frayed cuffs, washed-out color and worn collar. By now it was super soft and sooo comfortable.

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Volume 5, Issue 10, Posted 10:21 AM, 05.14.2013

Tsitsikamma canopy tour

Have you ever heard of a temperate rainforest before? I had heard of tropical rainforests like the Amazon but I didn’t know that there was such a thing as a temperate rainforest until I visited the Tsitsikamma National Forest in South Africa. A temperate rainforest is one that has mild temperatures and mild summers and mild winters.

Tsitsikamma National Forest is along the Garden Route on the southeastern coast of South Africa. The word “Tsitsikamma” means “the place with much water,” and it was named by the Khoi people. The Khoi people are part of the original people that have lived in South Africa for over 2,000 years.

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Volume 5, Issue 7, Posted 10:44 AM, 04.02.2013

Harry, the leopard and the elephants

Crash…chew, chew… crash!! That is what I heard as I approached a male (bull) elephant eating on my second safari at Shamwari Wildlife Reserve. Shamwari is in the Eastern Cape of South Africa and is about nine hours away from Stellenbosch along the Garden Route. The Garden Route is a beautiful drive along the coast of the Indian Ocean. It has spectacular mountains, great forests with ancient trees and white sandy beaches.

When we arrived at Shamwari we had to drive down a bumpy dirt road to get to the gate of the reserve. I noticed right away it was different from Sanbona Wildlife Reserve because it wasn’t dry and it had a lot more green trees and plant life. But it still had bumpy roads and mountains.

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Volume 5, Issue 6, Posted 10:53 AM, 03.19.2013

Bay Village shopping opportunities of yesteryear

In the 1960s and '70s, when I called the city of Bay Village home (for about twelve years), "online" shopping may have meant waiting in a long queue for one’s purchases to be rung-up. It’s doubtful anyone other than the most visionary among us would have imagined the concept as it exists today.

Still, back then residents of Bay Village didn’t have far to travel if they wished to purchase a surprisingly wide variety of items. A story of mine appearing in the Feb. 19 issue of this newspaper regarding some of the dining-out options that existed when I was a Bayite spurred further recollections of other retail businesses in the city during that era. This is by no means a complete list, but following is my recollection of many of those retailers:

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Volume 5, Issue 6, Posted 10:48 AM, 03.19.2013

Remembering 'The Opener'

The Cleveland sports fan torment meter tilts to eleven with the recollection of certain painful scars: the Game 7 Marlins 9th inning World Series debacle, The Fumble, The Drive, The Shot, Red-Right '88 and, of course, The Decision. While not registering the same angst magnitude of those landmark failures, the 2012 Indians home opener earned a place in the egregious lore of Cleveland sports tragedies.

The Indians-Blue Jays opener was the longest of 1,360 Opening Day games played since 1901. The crushing loss of that landmark opener served up some distinctively painful twists of fate that foreshadowed the events of a doomed 2012 season.

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Volume 5, Issue 6, Posted 10:56 AM, 03.19.2013

My Lent mantra: Next year I'll do better

In this world of good intentions, I'm beginning to wonder if my latest one even counts.

I chose to give up chocolate candy during Lent, and I have no doubt I will successfully uphold that promise. The reason I'm so certain has nothing to do with my strong willpower, but rather the lack of it. I found that after depriving myself for just a few weeks of anything that resembled a chocolate bar, my body started to rebel, and the shaking suggested that I was a prime candidate for the dreaded chocolate candy withdrawal syndrome.

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Volume 5, Issue 6, Posted 10:56 AM, 03.19.2013

The meaning behind "Danny Boy"

Chances are, if you go out to celebrate St. Patrick's day, somewhere you're going to hear the popular Irish song "O Danny Boy," a favorite on that day.

Chances are also very good that due to the raucous crowd at the pub you are in, you will only hear snatches of the lyrics. Impress your friends with the following Irish info.

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Volume 5, Issue 5, Posted 9:50 AM, 03.05.2013

Recalling tasty memories of bygone Bay eateries

Part of a passage in Tara Wendell’s article in the Feb. 5 issue of the Observer about Mayor Sutherland's Bay resident satisfaction survey put me in a nostalgic mode.

Among the relatively few areas of frustration cited in the survey, a “shortage of restaurants/bars” was listed. Seeing that quickly got my memory cells energized to recall the dining-out options that existed within the city of Bay Village in the mid-1960s to 1970s, when I was among its residents.

As I remember, the Peach Tree Restaurant was the only general menu, full-service dining spot in town before closing in the early- to mid-70s. Peach Tree was located in the old Kroger plaza at Dover Center Road and the railroad tracks (now the Dover Junction shopping complex), situated just north of the Cunningham Drug Store.

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Volume 5, Issue 4, Posted 9:56 AM, 02.19.2013

On safari in South Africa

Can you imagine the smell of elephant dung? I mean actually having the elephant dung put under your nose to smell it? I don’t have to imagine because I smelled it on my first safari. It smelled a lot like horse poop and I learned that is because horses and elephants eat similar foods. Even though it smells like horse poop, it sure is a lot bigger!

My family and I just got back from going on our first safari. We went to Sambona Wildlife Reserve and is about three-and-a-half hours from where we live. The Reserve was created in 2002 to restore the wildlife and environment slowly back to how it was before the first white settlers came to South Africa.

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Volume 5, Issue 4, Posted 10:02 AM, 02.19.2013

Final thoughts before I become a foreign journalist

[Editor's note: Audrey Ray’s regular column, “Musings from the Middle,” a chronicle of the joys and struggles of a Bay Middle School student, will be on hiatus as her family relocates to South Africa. Audrey expects to resume writing once settled in their temporary home in Stellenbosch, near Cape Town. With the help of family friend Heather Ransom, Audrey filed one last article before heading overseas.]

Would you want to travel more than 24 hours to go to another country to live for seven months? I sure wouldn’t want to, but that’s what I am doing. By the time you read this, I will be in South Africa. My dad received a Fulbright Scholarship to study there, so my family will live there for seven months.

South Africa is on the very bottom of the continent of Africa in the Southern Hemisphere. But before I get there I am dreading the trip. I know it’s going to be long, tiring and boring. I also don’t think traveling with my younger siblings will be very easy.

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Volume 5, Issue 2, Posted 11:46 AM, 01.22.2013

Remembering the meaning of Thanksgiving

When most people hear Thanksgiving, they immediately think big feast, turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes and whipped cream on pumpkin pie; but what is it really about?

Well for starters, it's about giving thanks, I mean after all it is called Thanksgiving. And well... I guess there's a bit of food in it, oh alright a lot of food. And for all you smarties out there, of course you can say Pilgrims and Indians (Native Americans). But all you have to think about is giving thanks for everything you have. That's all you have to do to have a "real" Thanksgiving, just give thanks.

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Volume 4, Issue 24, Posted 10:36 AM, 11.27.2012

Confessions of a Porter Library addict

I have kept a book log since the early 1970s and I've always wished I'd begun it when I was a child. I've read as many as 100 books a year, but these days I'm down to 35 or 40. My eyes get tired. I prefer literary fiction, but I read everything. I love a good memoir, history, and I especially love poetry.

If I were on a desert island and could only have one master of each major art form as companions they would be Emily Dickinson, Mozart and Monet.

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Volume 4, Issue 24, Posted 10:33 AM, 11.27.2012

Abraham Lincoln: Man and movie

As a student, writer, and sometimes performer of Abraham Lincoln, I’m occasionally asked what I think of books, movies or portrayals of our 16th president. I love these questions – any excuse to talk about my hero president is good for me.

Now with the Steven Spielberg movie “Lincoln,” I’m asked about it and the accuracy of its plot and performances. I saw the movie with my son, Jeff, his son, Alex, and several good friends from The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable on Nov. 20 at the Regal Cinema in Westlake. While this movie couldn’t compete for attendance with the latest “Twilight,” there was a good number in our audience.

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Volume 4, Issue 24, Posted 10:41 AM, 11.27.2012

One Senior's Opinion: Checking in from Fayetteville

Greetings from Fayetteville, North Carolina, the home of Fort Bragg, one of our country's largest military bases. I am spending Thanksgiving with family, getting to know our five-month-old granddaughter, Izzie. Weather here is terrific. I am so proud to walk among our military, at church, the store, McDonald's; you name it and they are there.

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Volume 4, Issue 24, Posted 10:39 AM, 11.27.2012

Lincoln at Gettysburg

Nov. 19 will mark the 149th anniversary of Abraham’s Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in 1863. As I have for the last 13 years, I'll be in the National Cemetery in that historic town to hear the address given again by a good friend and noted Lincoln performer, Jim Getty.

The main speaker this year will be Steven Spielberg, director of the new movie, “Lincoln,” which promises to present Lincoln on screen for the first time as he really was – man and politician.

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Volume 4, Issue 23, Posted 9:23 AM, 11.13.2012

Lessons from a five-year-old

Lilianna is my five year old. I was working on the computer during the summer when she asked me what I was doing. I explained that I was writing an article for the Observer newspaper about helping older people who are having trouble remembering things.

Light bulbs went off in her head and she decided she wanted to write articles to help older people too! I have enjoyed hearing her “articles” so much that I decided to have her “write” a weekly blog for me.

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Volume 4, Issue 23, Posted 10:30 AM, 11.27.2012

Honoring those who protect our freedoms on Veterans Day

From the battles of Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill in 1775, to the mountains of Afghanistan, Pakistan and the skies over Libya today, Americans have fought and are fighting to give and to ensure the freedoms we enjoy here in the greatest country that ever was.

Over these 236 years of our country’s history, millions of men and women of all races, of all beliefs, across the spectrum of our society – sons, daughters, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters – have gone to war for us.

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Volume 4, Issue 22, Posted 7:32 PM, 10.30.2012

223 Memory Lane

I decided to write something a little different than my usual senior living topics. I have a story to tell.

I come from a family that has shared and saved many things from our past. I am blessed to have a mother that thinks of family history as an amazing trip down...let’s call it 223 Memory Lane. She has cherished and saved many things from the past of her children (she gave me every stuffed animal and doll I ever owned), but also of her own parents and my father’s parents, their parents and beyond. She has shared these treasures verbally, in written form and with pictures and trinkets. 

I have these precious memories all over my house, in plain sight and also tucked away safely. Recently I went through a wonderfully organized box that my mother made for me and also one for each of my two brothers. I need to go through theirs too, because she shared different things with each of us. Inside the box held photos of our family going as far back as 1897.

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Volume 4, Issue 21, Posted 9:54 AM, 10.16.2012

One Senior's Opinion: Get into the spirit of the season

Halloween lights and decorations are springing up everywhere. Oranges, reds and yellows are the colors of the season. Crops have been harvested, school is well under way and football makes great conversations, especially among guys.  Moms with young children are busy costume shopping or sewing, planning Halloween get-togethers and decorating the house, both inside and out. It's a great time to celebrate.

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Volume 4, Issue 21, Posted 10:04 AM, 10.16.2012

This is a stand up against bullying

We’ve all experienced that one moment, when you feel alone and worthless. We’ve all escaped happy dreams to wake up to a living nightmare. We’ve all been taken up to be pushed back down again. We’ve all faked a smile though puffy eyes and quivering lips. We’ve all been bullied.

I’ve been through countless minutes of "No Bullying" assemblies and lengthy lectures about being nice to each other. What adults don’t realize is that those long speeches help as much as taking a fish out of water. It doesn’t work.

Bullies might feel bad in the moment, but once the speaking is done and the chairs are cleared, it will be brushed off their shoulders and lost from their minds. Then it’s back to usual, and that one kid, who pledges to be himself, is punished for it.

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Volume 4, Issue 18, Posted 10:52 AM, 09.05.2012

A story about Daisy

A few months ago, my family brought me a very small little dog (Daisy), only six months old, because my little dog of many years had passed away last year and they knew just how much I missed my Charmin (like the toilet paper!).

Daisy was a doll, part Chiw and part Dacsy...apparently she had been literally thrown out in a trash bin, with four of her siblings, and left to die. A kind person heard the pups crying and found them, took them to a vet for checkups and shots, paying for this with her own money. She also notified the authorities.

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Volume 4, Issue 17, Posted 9:59 AM, 08.21.2012

The silent epidemic of drug abuse

As a mother and a grandmother, I guess I wanted to believe that the rumors I have been hearing about the use of drugs among young people are untrue, and just that – rumors. But when you start hearing and seeing lives torn apart because of heroine and cocaine usage by close friends, neighbors, family persons, you are awakened to the realization that this "thing" is in our own community! 

Folks don't want to talk about it, don't want to think about it, as long as it does not affect them. In every county and suburb, the drug problem is becoming rampant. I am sure it is difficult for safety forces to find the sources, and then what?

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Volume 4, Issue 16, Posted 10:26 AM, 08.07.2012

Knickerbocker residents care for stray feline family

The residents at the Knickerbocker Apartments in Bay Village realize the compassion and respect for life each individual has, especially those folks who are animal lovers, and especially since we have had to deal with soaring temperatures that threaten lives, young and old, and small defenseless creatures, that have no shelter or food or water.

Such was the case last week, as I watched a group of wonderful residents take pity on a mother cat and her little babies. Each night they place food and water outside for them, and the little ones have come to trust one special lady, who shall remain nameless, as she seeks them out in her nightly routine to save them from death, out in the terrible heat.

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Volume 4, Issue 15, Posted 10:13 AM, 07.24.2012

An adventure to remember

On a recent Saturday morning, my husband, Roger, loaded his bicycle, spare tubes, tools, clothes and snack bars into a rental car and drove to Washington, D.C. He turned the car in, stayed overnight in a motel and started the next morning on a bike trip to Cumberland, Md., on the C&O Towpath Trail, camping along the way. 

He carried everything he needed in four panniers on the bike, adding around 40 pounds of weight. That was his Big Adventure; mine started a week later when I drove with my bike to Cumberland to meet him. He locked up his camping gear in the car and I put my clothes and other necessities in the empty packs.

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Volume 4, Issue 14, Posted 12:50 PM, 07.10.2012

Revere the democratic process

How often do we take things for granted? Do we really appreciate the fact that we can sit in the comfort of our easy chair, in the midst of our calm surroundings and watch as the world goes by? With all of our advantages and material goods we are often lulled into a quiet existence. 

Unlike other countries, we can live without fear of shortage of water or food, live without fear of violence and we can live without fear of repercussions for our political views. This truly is the land of good and plenty and sometimes we need to be reminded of that. 

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Volume 4, Issue 14, Posted 12:48 PM, 07.10.2012

Four score and seven vampires

With the opening this summer of the movie “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” I expect, as a Lincoln historian and portrayer, to be asked if he really was one. He wasn’t. Lincoln was many things, including the greatest president of our country, but my years of research have never revealed that he ever hunted four score and seven blood-sucking people with fangs – not even one.

Now, you may say that that goes without saying – who would ever believe that he did hunt descendants of Count Dracula? But considering that many young people will be exposed to more of Lincoln in this movie than in any classroom, it’s worth saying just so the record is clear.

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Volume 4, Issue 13, Posted 9:54 AM, 06.26.2012

One Senior's Opinion: Helping veterans face post-war challenges

Now that Memorial Day's parades, speeches and services are over, it seems like a good time to stop and think what it means to serve in the military. How difficult it must be to leave one's home and family to travel to places unknown. War is cruel. So many lives are taken and those who return often face incredible hardships reintegrating into every day life here at home.

One group in particular came home not as heroes but despised, unwanted and taunted. These are the Vietnam veterans. Most of them are in their sixties by now. A number of them are ill or homeless. Exposed to Agent Orange, an herbicide and defoliant used by the U.S. military as a part of its Operation Ranch Hand, these vets are suffering dire consequences from exposure and the lack of support they received when they returned home.

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Volume 4, Issue 12, Posted 3:52 PM, 06.21.2012

Reflecting on the true meaning of Memorial Day

The history of Memorial Day, formerly called Decoration Day, is poetically rich across America where at least 24 towns claim to be the birthplace of this American tradition to honor the men and women who have given their lives as the final sacrifice while serving in the armed services of our country.

One such patriotic claim comes from Boalsburg, Penn., in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains. In October 1864, Emma Hunter and her friend Sophie Keller gathered garden flowers to place on the grave of her father Reuben, a Union Army surgeon who had died on Sept. 19 in Annapolis, Md., of typhoid. On the same day, Elizabeth Weaver Myers brought flowers for her son Amos’ grave. Private Amos Myers had fallen at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. These three women also put flowers on the graves of other soldiers in this precious cemetery. They agreed to meet on July 4, 1865, to once again honor the dead soldiers in this cemetery.

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Volume 4, Issue 11, Posted 10:00 AM, 05.30.2012

Ohio guys sticking together

Growing up in South Euclid, our three sons, Jeff, Mike and Rick, came to appreciate the proximity of what was then the Mayfield Country Club. When the time came for them to seek part-time jobs, they found them at MCC as caddies, bus boys, ground crew and waiters. Our daughter, Michelle, preferred office work elsewhere.

The boys appreciated the money they earned but they appreciated even more the opportunity they had to play golf at the club during off hours, becoming very good at the game over time.

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Volume 4, Issue 11, Posted 10:02 AM, 05.30.2012

One Senior's Opinion: Reflecting on beauty of nature

The beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains is a source of joy in my life. When I need to clear my mind, I close my eyes and picture the tall pines, a soft breeze and a view that takes my breath away. I think of gentle spring rains whose diamond-like drops dance on my skin. Yes, I love this place.

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Volume 4, Issue 9, Posted 10:25 AM, 05.01.2012

One Senior's Opinion: Trying to kick the 'ax habit' and enjoy life's moments

I've come to the conclusion that life is ever changing. One minute you can be on top of the world, the next moment life can bring you down to your knees. I am a little suspicious when my life goes too smoothly. I guess I'm waiting for the proverbial ax to fall. I would definitely like to kick the "ax habit" but it seems so ingrained, a part of who I am. I am trying to accept the good things in my life and rejoice in them.

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Volume 4, Issue 7, Posted 10:43 AM, 04.03.2012