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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Friday, November 23, 2007

Now That Was a Real Snow

It snowed on Thanksgiving night. Nothing much, just an inch or a little more, but we awoke Friday morning to find the first tracking snow of the season on the ground. It should be like that this time of year.
Our little snow brought memories of a much bigger one. That's the way it is as you grow older; something happens and a similar event from the past comes to mind. In this case it was Thanksgiving of 1950 and what followed that night.
I had the day off from my job of driving a G.I. Cab twelve hours a day, six days a week. The time was spent with friends at my parents house. The conversation continued until late evening so instead of going to bed at nine I was up until eleven. It was raining when I hit the sack for a little more than five hours sleep before it was time to get up and prepare to catch the 5 a.m. bus that would take me to downtown Akron. There I would transfer to another that headed east to where I would get off and walk about a mile to the cab company. I drove cab number one from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and then Ben Gang would take over for his twelve-hour shift. When I arrived at the company he would have the cab washed, cleaned inside, gassed up and ready to go. I did the same for him in the evening.
Things didn't go quite that way on that Friday morning fifty-seven years ago. Rather than getting up when the alarm went off at 4:15, I arose to answer the phone at 4 o'clock. It was the night dispatcher and his words surprised me: "Don't come in today."
"Why not?"
"Take a look outside."
I went to a window and saw more than a foot of snow on the ground. More was coming down, an almost solid wall of white whipped about by a brisk wind.
It continued through the day and when it finally ended we had twenty-six inches on the ground, but that didn't tell the real story. The wind had piled it to a height of six feet in all but the most sheltered places.
A week went by before the buses started running and it was then that another call from the company told me to come in and pick up a check for $35, the average pay, including tips, for a seventy-two hour work week. When I arrived all that could be seen in the parking lot were two long rows of slight humps - the tops of our cabs - in a field of solid white.
That $35 was badly needed by those of us who drove full time. When I read about the shabby way so many companies treat employees today, that gesture never fails to come to mind. G.I. was a struggling company, a victim of prejudice by the city council that favored Yellow Cab in every possible way. Still, even though money was always a problem, the two men that owned the company placed the welfare of its thirty full-time drivers ahead of the bottom line.
So snow on a Friday morning after Thanksgiving always inspires thoughts of that beautiful cab number one, pale gray with a bright red top, some of the other drivers, all young veterans, and above all a company with a goal of more than merely making money. Over the years I haven't run across too many like that.


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