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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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Was it something in the air?

I don't qualify as a Civil War buff or even someone truly knowledgable on the subject, yet like so many others I have visited a number of battlefields from that war and enjoy hearing about them.
From the time I was a young boy, one thing about that war has puzzled me. How is it that you could enjoy a leisurely breakfast, then set out by car and well before lunch have visited the boyhood homes of three men who played prominent roles in that war and what followed in the Old West? You can do this in a small area of East Central Ohio.
None of these were jovial men or even sociable men by normal standards. Two were poor students at Wes Point and ranked near the bottom of their respective classes. Yet fame awaited.
The first was William Tecumseh Sherman of Lancaster. Unlike the other two, he was a  brlliant student. Not as concerned about military customs and protocol as he might have been, however.
Just over thirty miles to the northeast was the home of Phillip Sheridan in Somerset. Like numerous short men, he carried a big chip on his shoulder.
Drive on and you come to a wide spot in the road called New Rumley, at one time the home of an impetuous and impatient young man named George Armstrong Custer. Like Sheridan, he wasn't overly fond of books.
Sherman, an outstanding general, is best remembered for his march through Georgia and the Carolinas. He left a lot of smoke and ashes in his wake, as did Sheridan in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. With Custer leading the way, his cavalry was hot on Robert E. Lee's heels and both he and Sheridan were present when Lee surrendered at Appomattox.
Then all three moved westward. Sherman was in overall command during the Indian Wars but it was Sheridan, closer to the action and a man of many prejudices, who said, "I never saw a good Injun who wasn't dead." This was quickly transformed by others into, "The only good Indian is a dead Indian."
Then there was the man who couldn't wait on others, Custer. With the entire 8th Infantry Regiment close enough to hear the gunfire, he went charging into oblivion at the Little Big Horn.
So was it something in the air of East Central Ohio that made them the way they were? Slash, burn, destroy, throw caution to the wind, that was the way they lived and in one case died. Whatever it was, it made for some interesting stories in the history books.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Do you know what it means to suffer?

It was one of those rare times when you couldn't ask for a single thing that would make life better. The brutal fighting in and around the town of Mortain was over and that meant the Battle of Normandy was over. More war lay ahead but at the moment all that mattered was the warm sunlight falling on a grassy hillside and the quiet that seemed so tangible you could reach out and touch it, store a little of it away in your pockets.
Then a chaplain came walking by, a hellfire and brimstone preacher who saw us as a captive audience. He stopped and looked us over with disgust.
"You're soft," he cried in a high-pitched voice laced with the hills and hollows of Appalachia. "You don't know what it means to suffer. You don't know what it means to be really hungry. Well I know and I'm going to tell you."
No one had informed him that some of the men sitting by themselves off to the left were from the 30th Infantry Division. For a week they had been surrounded on a hillside with nothing to eat but some unripe apples and hard potatoes they had dug from the ground.
So he told them and the rest of us who'd been eating high on the hog what it was like to be really hungry.
"After breakfast one morning I went for a walk in the woods and got lost. It was ten-thirty at night before I got back. All that time I didn't have a thing to eat. That's what it means to be hungry. That's what it means to suffer."
One by one the men from the 30th got up and walked away. One by one the rest of us did the same.
Well, it was nice while it lasted.