It has often been said that when one is before a group that it is always best to lead with a good story or better yet an even better joke.
Marge Bear Cleaves, who once upon a time shared a cooking story with my mother during the days of The St Johns Ladies League, shared this one with me.
“One Friday after bowling in the Westgate Ladies League Ray Huster, Stan Youngpeter, Lee McConnell, Jeanne Miller and I went into the restaurant for a sandwich.”
I remember my mother speaking of Jeanne that she had a great sense of humor but she as well was one of the kinder souls that one would ever meet.
Ms. Cleaves continued, “I worked at the McMahan-Heidt Veterinarian Hospital. Jeanne, who was a bleeding heart when it came to animals asked me if it was cruel to give cats a bath. I said no but you should hear it when they go through the ringer.”
She shares that Jeanne was mortified but I nearly fell out of my chair laughing as the lovable Youngpeter did from the booth on that day.
Long before his great career as a guidance counselor at Lima Senior High School he was simply ‘Beiner.’
We have referenced on many occasions that long ago there was somewhat of a marriage of softball and bowling. So many of the softball legends of the past are now very viable bowlers in our world to include some that you will see mentioned below.
“As a youth in Lima, I was blessed with the opportunity to grow up on that tract of land bordered by Calumet Avenue and Kibby Street.
As a kid, the “Older Kids” would always allow me to participate in their nightly Football Games on the playground affectionately referred to as “Stone Stadium” with the likes of Danny “Beaver” Evans, the Baumgartner boys… Jack (Fingers), Jim (Flintstone) and Greg (Kraut), the Callahan boys… Keith, Phil, Doug and Kevin.. Craig “Mud ” Workman (Future Q.B. of our beloved Lima Spartans), Bill “Rookie” Depalma, Denny “Corky” Shaw, Steve Frueh, and the list goes on…..
It was “Fruechy” who had invited me to join the neighborhood softball team my junior year of high school. At the time, it sounded like a Great Idea as my vision of starting 1st Base for the New York Yankees had slowed to a dose of reality halt. That team played in the Monday Night “Under the Lights” League at Faurot Park Diamond 2.
I knew all these guys. More importantly, so did my parents.
My older brother Gregg was great friends with this outfit, but he was off to school at Otterbein College at the time as he was 8 years older than me.
It was on the Washington Mckinley Yard, after we moved off the stones onto the grass (Until janitor Elmer Suggs would throw us off after 1.5 Hours each night) that I was Nicknamed “Beiner” as I wore an Otterbein Jersey every night, a nickname that snaps my head till this day.
Most Friday and Saturday Nights during High School at Lima Senior included a Penny Ante Poker Game that rotated between Steve Clippinger’s, Mike Haney’s, Bob Foley’s, The Campbell House, but our Favorite Venue was Tim Miller’s on Franklin Street.
However, in the Fall of 1971 I would tag along with Phil Callahan and Kraut and go bowling at Westgate Lanes. We probably bowled 10 nights that Fall of my Senior Year. It was on one of those nights that I rolled my personal Best of 196 which will always remain intact for me.
Later in April of my senior year on prom weekend Saturday, I went to Cleveland with Fruechy and Kraut to an Indians Day game as I was just too darn shy to ask for a prom Date! It was on this trip that Ted Williams kept a safe 6 Foot Social Distance Away from us on his walk to the game as Manager of the Texas Rangers.
The next day Greg Miller drove many of my previously mentioned High School Crew to Cincinnati to watch a Double Header vs Henry Aaron and the Atlanta Braves.
They weren’t as shy as me and had all gone to Prom LOL and were operating on 3 hours sleep.
But that 196 wll always be with me… It was a Wonderful Night!”
The story of Beiner brought back so many great memories for me. It reminded me of the days of the purple jerseys and Yankee pinstripe pants of Radio Hospital softball. It led to me lovingly reflecting upon three bowling buddies who are no longer with us – Kraut, who was mentioned in the story of Beiner and another neighborhood person who loved him – David Cook as well as Keith Henson who I believe also had the opportunity to coach him in softball.
It became even more of a bowling story when he spoke of Steve Frueh who like me had our share of trouble in totaling 196 in most games.
I hope that what was written today brought forward a pleasant memory, a smile or even a chuckle or so. We clearly are in a period of time where such is needed. Sadly we are also at a point where my editor has been advised that we need to place this column on hiatus for a time.
My prayer at this time is for each of you to be blessed and as much as what you can that you be a blessing to others.
You are loved