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 07, 2008

Good times in the neighborhood

I was thinking today of Burkey the barber and this was probably the first time in many years that anyone remembered the portly fellow who had a shop just down the street. Back in 1936 and '37 we lived right next door to the place where he spent most of his waking hours. By looking out the balcony door just to my right I can see both our old apartment and the building where Burkey had his shop.
As he cut your hair, Burkey's ample stomach pressed tightly against your arm so you could both hear and feel the inner rumblings. Every so often he would emit a noteworthy belch. I looked on that as a highlight of having my hair cut but my dad found it disgusting, or at least pretended to. Clyde B. Stodghill was not a man of great refinement himself so I took his complaints with a grain of salt.
Neighborhood kids, and there were many of them, played on the devil strip in front of Burkey's shop. I'm not sure why because there was a large vacant lot just a stone's throw away. Boys wrestled and fought and played marbles and mumblety-peg while the girls used chalk to mark out a hopscotch ring, or whatever they called it. That corner was always busy, but it's strange because today you never see a kid there. Or anywhere else, for that matter.
One snowy day Burkey kept me from committing murder. A boy from my former neighborhood came over to play and hit me in the nose with a snowball. It was the first time I realized I had a vicious temper and would have to work to keep it under control. So I had my visitor on the ground with my hands around his throat until Burkey came out and pulled me away. The boy headed for home and I never saw him again. For months after that Burkey would shake his head and say, "You were going to kill that kid."
Burkey's old shop and Mr. Baer's drugstore next to it in the same building are an apartment today. So is Freese's Grocery next to the drugstore. Mr. Baer was very old and so was most of the merchandise in his dark establishment that rarely saw a customer. Freese's was a typical corner grocery store with the added feature of a few booths at the rear for drinking beer. Mr. Baer lived upstairs above his store and the Freese family, including my friend Dean, lived over the grocery.
The old neighborhood has changed a lot. I wish I could say it is for the better, but I can't. Nearly all the people from that era are dead now, including the kids. I was the least likely of the bunch to still be around, but that's just the way it goes.



http://www.dickstodghill.com/

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