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, March 13, 2009

Magnificent Sights

An old friend is on trial this week and that brought back the memory of the time when he was a running back on the football team at a large Indiana high school. His father was a gambling man who always bet against the point spread on his son's games.
One long-ago Friday night it was looking good for the old man. Only seconds remained to tick off on the clock before he'd be a big winner. With his son's team holding the ball deep in its own territory, victory seemed secure for the father, if not the son.
But then my old friend carried the ball, broke free and raced down the sideline with nothing but open space between him and the distant goal line. That in itself would have been a joy to see, but adding to the drama was the magnificent sight of the old man keeping pace on his side of the white line while shouting, "Fall down, damn you, fall down!"
During the months after returning home from the big war in Europe I was sometimes asked to name the most impressive sight I had seen. Was it the Cathedral of Notre Dame? The Eiffel Tower, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace?
It was none of these, I assured the listener. Instead it was the latrine at a British army camp just outside Southampton, our final stop before boarding ships bound for Normandy.
As you stood at the door of this long, low building, stretching out ahead of you were 75 toilets along one wall. Across an aisle ten feet wide were 75 more facing them. A 150-seater.
As awe-inspiring as this was, its true beauty could not be appreciated until the morning after our arrival when, following breakfast, every seat was occupied. Even so, several hundred men stood in line outside awaiting their turn. When I eventually reached the head of the line I was met with the never-to-be-forgotten sight of 150 men ensconced on stools.
To keep things moving, a corporal named Corrigan paced up and down the aisle calling out, "Let's cut it off short, men. Let's snap shit!"
When a man arose from a stool, Corrigan would race to it, dropping into a crouch and pointing to the available spot with one hand, to the next man in line with the other.
Adding to the poignancy was the realization that with battle looming ahead, these would be the last stools that many men would thrust their buttocks upon.
So while others might talk of the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame or Westminster, those sights paled in comparison with that of the magnificent 150-seater latrine.


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