“That’s My Girlfriend”

Here is my obligatory Valentine’s Day post.

I followed Bill Robinson and Jesse King out to their home on Robinson Road, just outside Athens, Ohio, on a cold, snowy January day in 1969. You’ll be hearing more about what I was doing there and see more photos in the coming weeks. Click on the photos to make them larger.

If there had been a Hoarder’s TV show back then, these old farmer bachelors would have qualified. Not long after I picked my way through a maze of tunnels of debris inside the house, they led me to the kitchen. It was piled high with dirty dishes and food of  indeterminate origin.

“Have you ever tried one of these before?

Jesse, who did most of the talking for the duo, reached onto the table, wiped off a fork on his overalls and thrust it into my hand. With the other hand, he pulled a bowl off the table. It contained something that was sort of lumpy. In the dim light, I couldn’t quite pull out what color it was, but it glowed vaguely green.

“Boy,” he said. (Remember he was the talkative one.) “Have you ever tried one of these before?

I could see where this was going and it didn’t look good.

  • If I said “yes,” I knew he he would say, “Well, I bet you’ve never had any as good as these.”
  • If I said, “no,” he’d say, “Well, dig in. You won’t find any better than these.” I was a gonner either way.

I looked at the dish and the fork and did a mental calculation: These old goats eat this stuff every day and it hasn’t killed them. “No, Jesse, I haven’t.”

“Well, dig in, You won’t find any better than these,” he said, predictably.

The ghostly apparition

I forked up a small quantity of the unknown dish. Before I could say anything, I noticed a ghostly white form floating into the room. “WOW! This stuff really works fast. I bet I could make a fortune selling this stuff on campus,” I thought.

Jesse turned to the apparition and said, “That’s my girlfriend.”

I never found out the girlfriend’s name nor what the mystery green dish was. (For the curious, it was sort of like a pickle, with a strange gritty crunch that was either some kind of seasoning or, more likely, sand. I didn’t ask for the recipe. There are some things you’re better off not knowing.)

Here’s MY girlfriend

I ran across this frame from a shoot of Grandma Gatewood, an extraordinary woman who, at the age of  67 was the first woman to hike the 2,168-mile Appalachian Trail in one season. When I shot her on the Buckeye Trail near Logan, Ohio, in January of 1969, she was 81 and had done the Appalachian Trail two more times.

The day was beyond miserable. The rain aspired to turn cold enough to become snow; it was so foggy you couldn’t see 100 yards; there was icy snow melt ready to fill your shoes and the trail was a quagmire that would suck your boots off.

When I was editing the film, I was surprised to find two frames of Lila Perry before she became Lila Steinhoff. I hadn’t remembered that she had come along on the assignment. Let me tell you, even someone as dense as I am knew that if you could find a woman who would give you a look like this under those conditions, she was a definite keeper and you shouldn’t let her get away.

We were married in June of 1969.

Valentines past

If you want to see the ones who DID get away, check out my grade school Valentines rescued from Mother’s attic last year.

Trinity Lutheran School Kindergarten circa 1952

This was taken in Trinity Hall of the Trinity Lutheran School kindergarten class at its Christmas party. If I was five when I was in kindergarten, that would mean this photo was taken in about 1952. Click on it to make it larger.

I can’t identify everyone in the photo, but I see, in no particular order, Mike Miller, David Hahs, Jerry O’Connell, Judy Schrader, Della Heise, John Hilpert, Jim Lorberg, Patty Haas, Ronald Dost and Kent Verhines. Apologies to everyone I left out or whose name I mangled.

Oh, yes, I’m in there, too.

Florida Steinhoff Christmas

It was good to be back in Florida in time to celebrate Christmas with my Florida family. We’re not big on ceremony.

Some of us gathered at Son Matt’s Christmas Eve for takeout Chinese Food, which is becoming a tradition.

Strict cooking instructions

Christmas dinner was equally unstructured. Everybody brought a different dish to share so that no one person got stuck slaving away in the kitchen. Even I got drafted. Wife Lila left me strict instructions: “I may not be back from church by 11 o’clock, so take the ham out of the oven at 11 sharp.” When the alarm went off, I went racing into the kitchen. Even with potholders, that sucker was HOT! I managed to extract it from the oven with minimal damage to ham and me. I don’t think anyone noticed where it bounced off the floor. It’s a good thing the cats don’t shed much; there was minimal cat hair to pick off.

The photo includes Matt and Sarah (standing), Mary Jo and Devon (Sarah’s parents), Carly, Graham and Adam, and Lila. Malcolm’s on the left making it plain that he wants dinner over with so he can go back to his loot. You can click on any photo to make it larger.

“You have to be eight to work on this”

Grandson Malcolm wasn’t hearing it when I looked at the cover of the Soda Can Robug and said, “We can’t work on this. It says it’s suitable for ages 8 and older. You’re just seven.”

“GRANDAD,” he said in an exasperated tone, “I’ve put together stuff that’s for ages 14 and up. My parents don’t care.”

I hope she likes my Nikon D40

Son Adam bid on a Nikon D3100 on eBay last week. I’m trying to convince them that they should take my Nikon D40 and let me pay the difference to take it off their hands. I’m happy with the D40 (I’ve taken about 30,000 pictures with it since 2008), but it would be nice to upgrade. Carly’s shooting 10-month-old Grandson Graham with the D40 to see how she likes it.

Lego Assembly technician for hire

I knew better than to point out to Malcolm that this box says 8+. He’s always had a great eye for detail. When he wasn’t much more than a year old, we gave him a bunch of paper cups to play with on the floor. When we looked over, he had carefully arranged them by size and was putting the smaller ones into the bigger ones. He made the transition from Thomas the Train and track layouts to Legos and major construction projects this year.

When one of Sarah’s friends posted on Facebook, “Does anyone else feel like they work on a Lego assembly line?” Sarah offered, “Malcolm says he charges $1 an hour to assemble Legos, unless it’s something cool. Then he does it for free.”

My old Cub Scout neckerchief

Mother sent Malcolm a special gift. He’s modeling a Cub Scout neckerchief and slide that Brothers Mark and David and I wore when we were Cub Scouts with Pack 8, shortly after the earth’s crust cooled. She asked him to “take care of it and pass it down to Graham” when he’s done with it.

Credit where credit’s due

I took the group shot at the top of the page, but Wife Lila took all the rest of the photos with her trusty iPhone.

Christmases Past

This is the time of year when newspapers run lots of year-end stories.

  • They’re popular with readers.
  • They can be produced early before everyone disappears.
  • They’re easy.
  • Everybody is too busy to read the paper, so you don’t want to burn up serious stories.

So, in that spirit, I’m going to recycle some stories from past Christmases. Follow the links for the Real Deal. Click on any photo to make it larger.

This was from a photo book Wife Lila and I did on our first Christmas as a married couple.

David’s first bicycle

Getting a bike for Christmas was a Big Deal. Here’s a video of Brother David getting his and helping Dad put it together. I love the way he keeps reaching over with his bathrobe sleeve to wipe off fingerprints from the chrome.

Christmas Confusion

People were running all around to try to figure out where these photos were taken.

Could it have been Good Hope?

Nope, it turned out to have been in Jackson.

 

St. Mary’s 1967 Christmas Novena

Missourian caption Dec. 24, 1967: The Rev. Bosco Westrich of St. Mary’s Cathedral presides over Friday night’s observance of the Christmas Novena at the church. At the left, an altar boy departs. The Novena is a nine-part series of Christmas services which will conclude on Christmas Eve. The banners on either side of the altar were made by school children of the parish.”

Witness Protection Program Santa

This is the first and only Santa I’ve ever seen wearing a full-face mask. (He’s almost as scary as this Easter Bunny in my past.)

Hutson’s Christmas Display

Hutson’s Fine Furniture has been hosting a Christmas display window for as long as I can remember. It’s not quite as large as I remembered it, but it’s still magic for youngsters.

Hutson’s is 2011 Old Town Cape Ornament

Coincidentally, Hutson’s window display was chosen as Old Town Cape’s featured ornament this year. Here’s a list of past ornaments.

Common Pleas Courthouse Live Nativity scene

Close to 2,000 people a day stopped by the live Nativity scene on the steps leading to the Common Pleas Courthouse in 1965. The exhibit proved so popular that the run was extended past the expected Christmas Eve closing date.

North County Park

Cars line up bumper to bumper to enjoy the Christmas displays at North County Park.

Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum

The folks at the Altenburg Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum have been putting together a wonderful Christmas display for the past six years. Here are photos from this year’s exhibit (plus a shameless plug for my Tower Rock book and East Perry County Calendar. Follow this link to see the 2010 exhibit.

Water Park holiday lights

The Family Aquatic Center at Osage Center was all lit up for the holidays. Quite impressive.

Here’s wishing you all a Merry Christmas or whatever holiday you’re celebrating at this time of year. We’ll probably take it easy for a couple of days. I’ve got a Top Stories of 2011 Review in the works.

Copyright © Ken Steinhoff. All rights reserved.