Mill Street Bridge

Mill Street Bridge demolition 08-25-1970When I’m not thinking about Cape, I hang out on the You Know You’re from Athens, Ohio, If… Facebook page. Folks there post memories of things I shot working for The Athens Messenger in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Someone brought up the old Mill Street Bridge this week.

This is a photo I took of the bridge the day it was destroyed on August 25, 1970, because the river was being relocated as part of a flood control project.

The bridge went splash close to deadline, so I rushed this photo in, only to be told, “Oh, I have that dummied in as a vertical. It’s too late to change, so go back and find a vertical.”

I told the editor to let me have his seat. I laid out the front page to give myself a nice horizontal ride, rewrote a couple of headlines, and said, “This’ll work.” That’s when I appreciated all the pages Missourian editor John Blue let me lay out and the hundreds of headlines I had written.

The biggest lemon in the world

Mill Street Bridge demolition 08-25-1970The vehicle on the left is my 1969 VW Squareback, the biggest lemon ever to be squeezed out of Germany. I loved the car, but it loved the repair shop more. I ended up selling it with the engine in a cardboard box.

Wife Lila and I lived in a basement apartment a few blocks from the bridge and the river. The landlord showed us a big valve they’d have to close if the river got high; otherwise, we were going to find ourselves wading in sewage.

Hocking River gauge

Mill Street Bridge demolition 08-25-1970The little square concrete structure on the far left is the river gauge. It was mentioned in a 1916 Water-Supply Paper talking about the Hocking River Basin. It was located “at a single span highway bridge at Mill Street, about three-fourths mile from business district of Athens, Athens County.” The left bank, it said, overflows at gage (their spelling) height 17 feet and the water passes around the bridge. The study noted there were ruins of an old mill dam 300 feet downstream.

Bridge was cut apart

Mill Street Bridge demolition 08-25-1970The horizontal members of the bridge were cut, leaving only the sides and bed behind. I don’t recall what actually brought the bridge down. The crane has been moved well back, and I don’t see the guy with the cutting torch in the final photos.

I’m pretty sure they didn’t use dynamite, like Dad did with a bridge over the Black River in Wayne county, Missouri. In his case, he had to drop the bridge straight down to keep it from damaging the new bridge next to it on one side and a bunch of phone lines on the other. The blast part went great, but cutting it apart like these guys are doing went not so well. You can see a video of it here.

Bridge demo gallery

Here’s a collection of photos of the bridge’s final moments. Click on any photo to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to move through the images.

 

 

A Garden of Fireworks

Middleport OH fireworks 07-04-2015

Not only did Curator Jessica make me get up early to shoot the Wilkesville Fourth of July parade, she insisted that it would be “fun” to watch the fireworks being shot over the Ohio River at Middleport, half an hour south of Athens.

It was chilly enough that a light jacket felt good. We got a parking place about a block from a decent vantage point, and I set up a tripod.

For you photo geeks, I locked the ISO at 200 because I wanted to force the camera to use a four-second exposure at about f/8. I usually pushed the shutter release when I heard the firework leave the tube. That would capture the rocket tail and most of the display.

I would have liked to have gotten at least one shot with the crowd visible in the foreground, but there wasn’t enough ambient light to capture them, and I was too lazy to walk back to the car for a strobe. Miz Jessica offered to go back for it, but I’ve learned that it’s not a good idea to trust your Road Warriorettes with the car keys. Sometimes they hold a grudge for some imagined slight during the day.

Fireworks photo gallery

Click on any image to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to move through the gallery.

Deer Me, Nothing Changes

Deer hanging at Burr Oak Lodge 11-09-2014I knew it was deer hunting season in Ohio when I stayed at the Burr Oak Lodge last November. Still, it’s a bit unusual to see Bambi times two hanging from a beam on the way to your room.

Just like in 1968

Nelsonville at night 12-05-1968Maybe I shouldn’t have been too surprised. People in Ohio like their deer meat, I discovered, when I cruised Nelsonville late at night on December 5, 1968. This deer was hanging on a porch not too far from the main drag.

Hauling venison across state lines

Wife Lila told me to go by her Brother John’s house in Jackson to pick up some venison to carry back to Florida. She had it all figured out: He said it’ll be frozen and should make it to Ohio where you can put it in a fridge in your room. When you saddle up to head home, pack it in dry ice, she ordered.

All of that went according to plan until I started to leave Athens. There was no problem getting the dry ice at a Kroger store (minimum quantity was way more than I needed), but the cooler was too tightly packed with deer meat to get any dry ice in it. Either I was going to have to buy a bigger cooler or something was going to have to give.

“Boy, what are you doing?”

An old man in a car next to me watched my maneuverings until he couldn’t stand it any more, “Boy, just what are you doing?”

Showing uncharacteristic good sense, I didn’t say something like “Dropping my wife off along the road. This is the last of her.”

I explained that I was trying to stuff 10 pounds in a five-pound sack.

“I love venison,” he said, wistfully, “and I can’t think of the last time I had some.”

“Today is your lucky day, then,” I said as I handed him a wrapped package of Missouri deer meat. “I’d rather give it to you than throw it away to make room for the dry ice.”

Paul Newman 1968

Paul Newman at OU 01-03-1968The big news was that Paul Newman was coming to the Ohio University campus in January of 1968 to stump for Eugene McCarthy. I covered the event for The Ohio University Post.

Some bios say that Newman was a student at Ohio university and lived in the very same Scott Quadrangle dorm I did. [He couldn’t remember where his room was; I asked.]

Some say he left the school to join the armed services in 1942. He wanted to be a pilot, but washed out because of color blindness. He served as a turret gunner on an Avenger aircraft. Because of a twist of fate – his pilot developed an ear infection and was grounded – he was not on the USS Bunker Hill when it was hit by kamikaze attacks that killed more than 300 sailors.

Was a keg involved in his departure?

Paul Newman at OU 01-03-1968Other bios say that he was invited to leave the university after he rolled a beer keg down Jeff Hill and bounced it off the president’s car. He mentioned “It’s good to be home” in his remarks, but he did not bring up anything about an errant beer keg.

Students mobbed the car carrying Newman and his wife, Joanne Woodward, when they arrived.

Jon Webb doing Hail Mary

Jon Webb covering  Paul Newman at OU 01-03-1968Jon Webb was the photographer at The Athens Messenger who started the daily picture page. I idolized the guy’s work. Still, it gave me a small amount of pleasure to see him doing a Hail Mary shot, something photographers do when they are out of position or hemmed in and need to try to get SOMETHING.

The story in The Post

Paul Newman at OU 01-03-1968Here is the story that appeared in The OU Post, along with two of my photos:

“It’s good to be home,” Paul Newman said as he walked up to the microphone on the stage of Memorial Auditorium yesterday after being mobbed by students outside.

The former Ohio University student who dropped out of school to join the armed forces in 1942 urged a crowd of some 3000 students to make “a rich physical commitment” to the presidential candidate of their choice.

Young people are McCarthy’s capital

Paul Newman at OU 01-03-1968Urging the crowd to help campaign for Eugene McCarthy in Indiana this weekend, Newman said, “We can’t afford to pay your way like some of the other candidates. We don’t have the capital – you young people are McCarthy’s capital.”

Newman at Press conference

Paul Newman at OU 01-03-1968In a press conference, Newman said he supports the Minnesota senator because “his credentials are better than anyone else and he has demonstrated his courage.”

“McCarthy rises above politics to become a statesman. He deals with things on a higher level: an intellectual strategy, not just a political strategy,” the actor continued.

Wanted to say he was part of his time

Paul Newman at OU 01-03-1968“I don’t know if my campaign will persuade anyone, but that’s not going to stop me,” he said. “I have six kids and I don’t want them to say I was never part of my time.”

Newman, who also visited the Ohio State and University of Cincinnati campuses yesterday, was presented with an Ohio University sweatshirt by students in the crowd.

A Harry & Son encounter

Paul Newman at OU 01-03-1968

For the record, I don’t recognize Mr. Cool, the photographer on the right. He wasn’t on the staff of the newspapers nor yearbook. He must have been one of the Fine Arts students.

I brought up another Paul Newman anecdote when I wrote his obit on my bike blog.

Newman arrived in Lake Worth, Florida, to film Harry & Son in 1984. I went to the set, not to take pictures, but to ask the movie crew if they could switch to a different two-way radio frequency because it was interfering with The Palm Beach Post’s radio system. That was a particular problem that morning because a an airliner inbound to Palm Beach International Airport had declared a mechanical emergency. The reporters and photographers scrambling to get into position were being overridden by the movie crew.

It happened because the FCC assigned newspapers and movie crews a shared group of frequencies in the 173 MHz range. Movie companies would frequently rent their radios from a Ft. Lauderdale company and pick a channel at random. In this case, they grabbed 173.275, which we used.

They were nice enough to switch when I pointed it out. (The plane landed safely, by the way. It was a faulty indicator light in the cockpit.)

 Paul Newman photo gallery

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