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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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Are We Ready For Another 1929?

Read a story this morning about the stock market hitting a record high, something that has been happening a lot recently. I've never been sure what it is than an economist does but the story said some of them think stocks are overpriced and may be due for a fall. That brought 1929 to mind.
Yes, there are a few of us around who can remember that far back. In my life the big event of the year was a wreck on the highway that put me in the hospital for 30 days. Not far behind, though, is the way everything changed not long after that. Life had seemed just fine, at least to a 4-year-old, then suddenly things turned sour.
Some people who had always been cheerful had turned glum, I noticed, but it was the next door neighbor's car that made me realize something was really wrong. It was a brand new 1930 Chevrolet sedan. The neighbor worshipped that car. Every evening after work he would hose it down, dry it off and check to make sure not a single spot of dirt remained to mar its finish. It was a ritual I always enjoyed watching, which leads me to believe there wasn't a whole lot of excitement going on in my life.
Then one afternoon I saw the neighbor get off the bus down at the corner and walk home, head drooped low and eyes fixed on the ground. The car, his pride and joy, was gone. I asked my dad about it a couple of times but never got a real answer.
It wasn't long before the neighbor wasn't even riding the bus any more. He just stayed around home all day and I was confused about that too. And finally the neighbor himself was gone and there was a sign in his front yard. Dad said he had moved and the house was for sale. No one ever came around to buy it, though.
A little more time went by and then one day dad's car was gone. Someone stole it, he said when I asked. I noticed he didn't try to find it and the police didn't bother to check on it. It had been a nice car, pale yellow with brown fenders and top. A Ford Victoria, dad called it. He also had quit going to work every morning. Sometimes he'd go out but when he came back he wouldn't say much, just look at my mother and shake his head.
My mother kept going to work at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, where she was the nurse. That theatre was a great place. Sometimes I got to go with her and I really enjoyed those days. But one day she quit going to work too.
About that time dad came home with an ancient Model-T Ford, the kind called a touring car that was open on both sides. And men came around with a truck and hauled away our furniture. It was being put in storage, my mother said, but that was the last I ever saw of it.
Some clothes and other things were loaded in that old Model-T and we started down the road to another town. That kept happening about every month - load up and head for a new town. It seemed the job dad was looking for always stayed a little ahead of him.
And then the day came when we'd hit a new town but not move into another furnished apartment the way we had been doing. We just lived in that Model-T that was open on both sides.
So that's the way it was after October of 1929. Wherever we happened to be I'd hear the grown-ups talking about the crash. At first I thought they meant the one that put me in the hospital for 30 days. Eventually I learned they meant a crash that was even bigger than that one.
So reading that story reminded me that what goes up must come down. Not as far down as 1929 and 1930, I hope. Or 1931 or 1932. Rock bottom, that's how far down we went in those years.