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, July 31, 2008

Random Thoughts

I suppose it's time for my long vacation from blogging to end. The past eleven days hardly qualify as vacation because I've been totally wrapped up on writing projects that left no time for anything else.
There were a couple of 6,000 word mystery stories to go over and over - thirty times at least - until I was satisfied. Changing a word here and another there, moving text from one place to another, deleting some things and adding others, coming up with a different ending - those things take time.
Then there were three high school sports books produced between 1988 and 1999 to get back in print again. Doing so was a huge job, although nothing like it was the first time. That took several years of reseach, compiling and writing. Doing the books was a labor of love because each has a limited market.
All of it is fun though. Can't think of anything else I'd rather be doing.
It has started earlier than ever this year, the slimy tactic that has become known as swift boating. The latest McCain TV commercial is so sickening it would be looked upon with scorn in Zimbabwe. Comparing a rival with Britney Spears and Paris Hilton is despicable. Will it work? In a country with millions of rednecks and bible thumpers you had better believe it will. This sort of thing got us eight years of war, record deficits and a failing economy. It is amazing how many people want more of the same rather than elect someone who doesn't look and act exactly as they do.
It really is time for the Democrats to launch a counterattack against the Republican filth. Perhaps they are just waiting for an opportune moment. If they intend to remain on the high ground they will lose.
They should make a big thing of McCain's age because it is a big thing. I am aware of that from personal experience, being close to my 83rd birthday now. They should harp on numerous things such as the fact he can't use a computer, let alone the Internet. He doesn't know the geography of the Middle East although he pretends to be an expert on the subject. He makes out that he is a military expert even though he never was on a battlefield when the shooting was going on. Piloting a plane, getting shot down, being a prisoner doesn't make a man a hero. He makes mistakes almost every time he opens his mouth. Around the halls of Congress he is known as Senator Hothead. In public he called his wife the worst name that can be applied to a woman, then said it was because he was tired.
He might do the seemingly impossible, make George W. Bush look good by comparison. Sounds like a great man to run the country.

Friday, July 18, 2008

I'm sick of it

I would like to see all politicians who use the word flipflop drawn and quartered. It implies - no, it outright contends - that changing your mind to adapt to changing conditions is a bad thing. It sounds like something a not-too-bright 10-year-old might say.
Hasn't eight years of having a man who seems incapable of adapting to change piloting the ship of state been enough?
Anyone with the ability to tie their own shoes can say, "This is the way I feel and nothing can change my mind." That doesn't make him a wise man.
When you announce that the dam won't break, but then find yourself neck deep in water, isn't changing your mind and seeking higher ground a good idea?
If you plan a picnic and then find it has been raining since daybreak wouldn't cancelling be a wise move? No, scream the politicians, you're a flipflopper if you do.
It's ridiculous to hear one of them announce that an opponent said something or voted for something in 2002 and now has changed his mind - flipflopped. If conditions have changed since 2002, doesn't an intelligent man adjust his thinking to accommodate those changes?
The captain of the Titanic could never be accused of flipflopping. He wanted to break the speed record for crossing the Atlantic so the hell with reports of icebergs ahead.
I don't want some stubborn fool incapable of changing his mind at the helm. Most sensible people feel the same way. We don't yearn for another voyage on the Titanic, we've already had eight years of it, so let's once and for all sink any politician who uses the word flipflop.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A proud member of PHARTS

In an admirable display of modesty I have until now kept quiet about qualifying for membership in the Professional Hack Authors RecogniTion Society. Its acronym is PHARTS. Because of my maturity I have achieved the highest of all honors, the designation of Old Phart.
James Lincoln Warren, our Sublime Imperial President-for-Life, is the man responsible for seeing that writers such as myself have at long last received the recogniTion we deserve. JLW is a noted writer of mystery short stories. You can find his work in places like Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine and at
At the latter site you will find essays by seven fine mystery writers including JLW, Leigh Lundin and John M. Floyd. Once a week each writes an interesting piece on whatever strikes his fancy at the moment. At times there may even be mention of crime and mystery. Yesterday, for example, JLW tells readers everything they need to know about dressing for black tie affairs. This, I must admit, is not a problem frequently encountered in my life, yet it was most interesting. Recently Lundin wrote about killer hobbies, something many of us didn't realize exist aside from bungee jumping and skydiving, pastimes that are activities and don't actually qualify as hobbies. Having read the story, I am now aware that killer hobbies are out there waiting to...well, kill you. So if you are not a reader of criminalbrief, I highly recommend it. Like PHARTS, it was founded by James Lincoln Warren himself. What more can be said?

Monday, July 14, 2008

A sight to remember

During quiet moments of meditation my thoughts sometimes drift back to the impressive sights I have seen in Europe. These include such memorable structures as the Tower of London, Westminster, Buckingham Palace, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the wonders of Venice. Yet all these pale in comparison to the latrine at a British army camp where I and hundreds of others spent the days leading up to the invasion of Normandy. We would be the first infantry replacements and few people envied us the assignment.
The first thing we saw after getting off the trucks at this camp a short distance from the docks at Southampton was a building bearing a sign "Ablutions." This had a sinister ring to farm boys from Iowa and city slickers from Chicago and New York. What awaited us inside? A couple of the most daring among us ventured close enough to open the door and peer inside. Laughing, they assured the less adventurous that it was nothing more than a place to wash up, shave or take a shower should someone feel the need.
That was quickly forgotten when we explored a low and lengthy building directly across the way. Along one wall were seventy-five toilets and across an aisle ten feet wide were seventy-five more. A one hundred and fifty seater!
And yet this magnificent facility proved inadequate. After breakfast the next morning a long line - or queue as we liked to say in England - of men awaited their turn to enter. After reaching the front of the line, an awesome sight stretched out ahead of me: one hundred and fifty men seated facing each other and a corporal named Corrigan urging them to perform their business and move on out. He would pace back and forth between the lines calling out, "Let's cut it off short, men! Let's cut it off short, let's snap shit!"
When a seat was vacated, Corrigan would rush toward it and drop into a semi-crouch, pointing to the next man in line with one hand and the available spot with the other.
This was not a place to dawdle. Not the place to bring the morning newspaper or a paperback book. No malingering was allowed. Should someone find it necessary to stay longer than Corrigan found acceptable, the unfortunate fellow felt the full effect of the corporal's wrath.
Yes, this was indeed a never-to-be-forgotten experience. A vision of this overwhelming facility was permanently engraved upon my mind so it seems a shame that history has overlooked this prelude to the battles that lay ahead. After all, this was the last chance many men would ever have to spend a relaxing moment seated on a throne.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A major project finished

I've been a bit lax on blogging this month. That always happens when I'm caught up in a major project. I've learned to do many things during my lifetime but being able to relax isn't one of them. That may be why I've always hated holidays and volunteered to work on all of them during my newspaper days. If I'm not working I'm not happy or content.
The latest project that ended about 6:30 yesterday evening was getting three sports books we did years ago in shape to be available again. The first, a history of basketball at Muncie Central High School in Indiana, dates back twenty years. The second, a history of football at Cuyahoga Falls High from 1893 though 1996, was published twelve years ago. The second edition is updated through 2005. That left the biggest of them all, a complete history of high school football in Akron from 1892 through 1999. Included are the scores of every game played by more than a dozen schools, coaches records and all-city teams. All three of the books contain many thousands of words of text.
Why make them available again? For one thing, people still want them. For another, at least three years of full-time research were required to complete the trio. Hundreds of miles were driven to examine microfilm files of old newspapers in more than forty cities. Jackie put in countless hours assisting with all that. Then came the job of getting each of them in book form. It was a labor of love and one helluva job.
Obviously books of this sort are of local interest only. The lone way to make them available is by self-publishing. That was a huge physical job when the original editions were put on the market. Today it is greatly simplified by online firms such as Lulu. Instead of having to find local printers, you merely get everything ready and upload it to Lulu. That includes covers that had to be updated for the two football books. Lulu did a fabulous job, particularly on the Falls High cover. The books are "perfect" bound, meaning they look like all 6x9 trade paperback books you see in stores. All you pay for are proof copies of the books. Everything else is free.
So now the books are not only available again, they look much nicer than the original editions. You can't beat that, yet it was a time consuming job with little left over for blogging.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Keeping them safe and secure - is it possible?

Whatever happened to kids? You remember them, those short people with runny noses and dirt behind their ears. They make a lot of noise and usually smell bad because they've been out running the streets all day getting into stuff and doing things they've been told not to do.
But wait, I'm thinking of the time when I was a rug rat myself back in another century and a different world. Kids aren't the same today. I'm sure of this because I drove down one street and up another this July morning. Before arriving home again I had traveled six miles and covered half the town. How many kids did I see along the way? Nary a one.
I know, the Mothers Against Everything That's Fun say you can't let the little darlings out of your sight for even a minute because there are bad people waiting to grab them. Of course there are, and more of them than when I was a growing boy doing everything possible to make a nuisance of myself. Back then there were about 120 million people in this country and now it's around 300 million. Some of the extra 180 million aren't very nice.
Still, there has always been that kind around. In the old days parents said, "Never take candy from a stranger" and things like that. If you think kids were perfectly safe back in that other world, visit a library and read old newspapers on microfilm. You may come away surprised.
The point is, there always has and always will be a certain amount of danger in life. It shouldn't be allowed to rule your world. Kids should be taught about those dangers, then turned loose. Keep them on too tight a leash and they become more vulnerable when they do have to venture beyond the sight of a parent.
For some time now, parents have even involved themselves in youth games and sports. They drive the kid to and from such activities. When are kids allowed to just be kids?
I know, kids today would rather watch TV, fiddle around with a computer (predators are lurking there, too) and send text messages on a cell phone than get out on their own with others their age. Then one day Dad turns to Mom and says, "Do you think Junior is putting on a little weight?"

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Something to wonder about

I received a contract today from Dell Magazines for a story called Deathtown. It will run in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine sometime after my 83rd birthday.
Receiving a contract is nothing new. There have been many of them over the years, but this one got me to thinking. Why, at my age, am I still writing stories that sell to major markets? It should never have happened because all my life I have done everything the medics and all the experts say you shouldn't do and none of the things you should do.
So why me when most of my old friends are dead? The majority of people my age are either under the dirt or rotting away in a nursing home, those places some folks call God's Waiting Room. I don't know the answer. I have often said and even written that dying too soon has never worried me but living too long scares the hell out of me.
I'm a confirmed fatalist. For most of my life I have believed that when the one with your name on it comes along there is nowhere you can hide. That dates back to a sunny summer afternoon in 1944 when Joe Meideros and I were sitting on the edge of the slit trench we had dug. Joe was sitting at one end, I was on a side and our heads were less than two feet apart. A stray shell hit in the field behind us and a large fragment passed between us with a whirring sound. It left a tiny scratch above Joe's upper lip, something that could have been a paper cut or the result of a razor slipping a little. One touch of his hand and the red streak no longer was visible.
That piece of shrapnel was wider than the space between our heads. It passed us at an angle. Neither Joe nor I had celebrated a 20th birthday, yet we were veterans of infantry combat, a pair of survivors at a time when men were dying all around us. We were in a relatively safe place so there wasn't a single precautionary move we could have taken. More than anything else, the episode convinced me that no amount of experience, no amount of caution, can save you when the one with your name on it comes along. Religious beliefs, or lack of them, play no role in it.
Joe died a couple of years ago. I'm still going. The Big Sleep doesn't scare me. Living too long does.