Stodghill Says So

An opinionated posting on a variety of subjects by a former newspaper reporter and columnist whose daily column was named best in Indiana by UPI. The Blog title is that used in his high school sports predictions for the Muncie Evening Press.

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Location: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, United States

At the age of 18 I was a 4th Infantry Division rifleman in the invasion of Normandy, then later was called back for the Korean War. Put in a couple of years as a Pinkerton detective. Much of my life was spent as a newspaper reporter, sports writer and daily columnist. Published three books on high school sports in Ohio and Indiana. I write mystery fiction for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and others. Three books, Normandy 1944 - A Young Rifleman's War, The Hoosier Hot Shots, and From Devout Catholic to Communist Agitator are now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. So are four collections of short mysteries: Jack Eddy Stories Volumes 1 and 2, Midland Murders, and The Rough Old Stuff From Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Ol' CBS and the House Next Door

When I was writing a daily newspaper column I sometimes included little tidbits about my father. I always referred to him as Ol' CBS because writing father or dad grew tedious. That title fit Clyde Bauer Stodghill a bit better anyway because wherever possible he put his initials on everything he owned.
I recall writing about the day he decided to teach me how to punt a football. I was 10 or 11 at the time. He drove us to the Akron airport where there would be room for his booming punts. I went out about 30 yards but he waved his hand and called, "Back, back!" So I withdrew another 10 yards or so. He held the football out in front of him and let fly. The ball dribbled along the ground 10 feet, perhaps 15, but I wasn't paying attention because Ol' CBS's leg had locked high in the air. Fortunately he was close enough to the car to fall back against it as I rolled on the ground laughing. End of my lessons about football.
And then there was the house next door. By then I had been in a couple of wars and was living up on Irish Hill on the other side of the river, the Canadian side as it was called by those living in the nicer parts of town. One day as I was driving by his house I noticed a moving van at the house next door and furniture being carried inside. I stopped to see Ol' CBS and ask about his new neighbors.
He didn't seem to want to talk about it. When I asked about their name he changed the subject. When I persisted he said, "You wouldn't know them."
"I might. I know a lot of people in town."
Still he hesitated, but finally said, "Their name is Hare."
"Hare?" I said. "That's a funny name. How do you spell it?"
He gritted his teeth and said, "H-O-E-R."
I thought for a moment before saying, "Come on, that's not Hare, it's Whore." Then at the thought of the fun that lay ahead I began laughing. Ol' CBS did not.
From that day forward whenever I drove past his house and saw cars parked in front I would go inside. He seemed to know all the puffed-up people in the area and was always trying to impress them. Because of that he was never pleased to see me while he was entertaining. He knew what was coming: as soon as there was a lull in the conversation I would say, "How's everything at the Hoer house next door?"
Ol' CBS would try to explain to his startled guests who were beginning to wonder if he was quite as important as he made out to be if he was living in that kind of neighborhood.
This went on for several years. Then one day a "For Sale" sign was in front of the house next door. I stopped to ask Ol' CBS about it. He was exuberant. "You've had your fun but now it's over. I guess you won't be stopping by as often as you have been." He was right, of course.
So one day after a "sold" sign was added to the other in front of the house next door another moving van was parked there and furniture was being carried inside. I pulled into Ol' CBS's driveway and found him unusually displeased to see me. I was suspicious, naturally, and asked him who had bought the house next door. He refused to answer, pretending to be busy fooling around with tools he was sorting. I wouldn't be put off and finally he said, "You wouldn't know them."
"I might. I know a lot of people in town."
There was more stalling on his part but I persisted. At last he said their name is Cott."
"Cott? That's a funny name. How do you spell it?"
He sighed, apparently having decided that sooner or later I'd have my way and it might as well be sooner. "You spell it," he murmured, "K-A-T-T."
"Katt? That's not Cott, it's Katt."
And then it hit me. The odds must have been a million to one, maybe a billion to one, but the house next door had gone from the Hoer House to the Katt House. So my fun wasn't over after all.
Poor Ol' CBS. He deserved a serious, thoughtful, upright son but had to settle for me.

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