Certainly, in looking for topics to provide glimpses of the life we share for my weekly offerings, death, one of the events that is as much a part of life as our very first gasps of breath, is one I feel I must periodically broach, given it is one occurrence that unifies us all,
Last week, Mike Bloomfield, once upon a time, the second of a trio of former high-school footballers dubbed The Three Tons of Fun, was laid to rest after a brief and sudden illness. For those of you old enough to remember schoolboy football in Lima in the 1960s, while you may not remember Bloomfield’s name, given the relative anonymity of the position he played on the defensive line, you very possibly will remember the collective moniker that was accorded to Mike and a couple of other shoulder-padded classmates of considerable size, Bill Dowd and Ray Lynch, when they took up space in the middle of the 1967 and ’68 T-Bird defensive lines.
While in sports, nicknames are quite common, they are most often acknowledged by the media after high school. Additionally, most nicknames are bestowed upon individuals. However, Bloomfield, Dowd and Lynch found that small-town notoriety together as adolescents, back in a time when, besides any difficulties that happened on a football field, there were equal concerns over typically vital angst-inducing teenage matters such as finding a prom date; getting rid of that pesky pimple on the chin, the one positioned so as to be chafed by a helmet’s chinstrap; and finding a way to pass those calculus unit tests always given on Fridays.
While their nickname actually was first used to identify three heavy actors named Frank Alexander, Hilliard Karr and Kewpie Ross, who starred in a series of silent films in the Roaring Twenties, Bloomfield, Dowd and Lynch were indeed our Three Tons of Fun.
I was a year behind Mike at LCC. However, I knew more of him rather than about him back then. I think most who came through school at that time would agree that these were times of rather insulated classes and even those just a year ahead or behind, were relative unknowns.
It would be years and years later before I would really get to know Mike on a personal level when he became actively involved in the Knights of Columbus here in Lima, eventually assuming the position of Grand Knight before moving on to serve as a council trustee.
As I got to know Mike better as well as his most congenial Putnam County born-and-bred wife, Linda, I began to see certain characteristics Mike possessed above all, his willingness to listen to others, his compassion for them, his generosity and the speed with which he would buy someone a drink or even pick up another’s tab and an obvious love for a family that grew exponentially over time.
A while back, I was asked by Matt Huffman to do some editing of the copy written to acknowledge the high schools that once called Lima Stadium home. The nod to history would become engraved on markers and festoon Lima’s newest city park, just south of the football field, where the current Spartans and T-Birds play on fall Fridays.
LCC’s brief history was written by Bob Seggerson. In reviewing the documents by Bob and the other authors, ones that would ultimately be put to stone by the artistry of Lepo Works, I noticed Segg’s entry didn’t mention the Three Tons of Fun, which, for my money, is Lima’s best schoolboy epithet.
As editors tend to do, besides making sure all those irksome comma rules are followed and other mechanical aspects of the language are in order, I suggested to Bob that we add an acknowledgment to “The Tons.” No cajoling on my part was needed, so I made the addition to Bob’s copy.
I called Mike to tell him, excited to tell him that his mates and he would be preserved for posterity. He seemed pleased but ended our conversation by saying, “I don’t know, John. I’m flattered, but we really weren’t all that special.”
While I encouraged him to get out to the park as soon as the monuments were done and placed, to be honest, I’m not sure he ever did. He may just have thought to himself that he’d just wait until the park dedication, scheduled for May 21. My hope is he slipped over there with Linda before that, but knowing his self-effacing nature, I’m thinking probably not.
About Mike, perhaps fellow K. of C. member Roger Fessler summed it up best when he told me the day after Mike’s funeral Mass, “He just made you feel better when he was around.” I think that’s about as high a compliment as can be given.
Yes, Mike will indeed be missed, the second of the Three Tons to move to what we all hope is a higher realm, joining Bill Dowd, who, at 29, died so very young, he, the victim of violence on the island of St. Croix back in 1979. That leaves Ray Lynch to carry his share and theirs of the mortal tonnage they all once collectively carried.
So it has gone for Michael L. Bloomfield, formally of Wyandotte, Michigan, which explains all that Wolverine nonsense he spouted smack dab in the middle of Buckeye Country. Simply put, Mike’s life was, indeed, one so very well lived. And, while he once upon a time was a T-Bird defensive stalwart, that matters little when compared to the man he became.
John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News and Our Generation’s Magazine, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.