Tag Archive: Ney Ohio

Just Say No to Ed Kidston and His Plan to Deplete the Michindoh Aquifer

michindoh aquifer

The Michindoh Aquifer — covering two million acres underground — provides water for all of Williams County and parts of Defiance and Fulton Counties in Ohio, parts of Steuben, DeKalb and Allen counties in Indiana, and parts of Michigan’s Hillsdale and Lenawee counties. I live in the rural Northwest Ohio community of Ney in Defiance County. Our sole source of water is the Michindoh Aquifer.

According to an October 5, 2009 KPC news story, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — acting on a 2007 petition from the city of Bryan, Ohio — proposed designating the Michindoh Aquifer a sole-source aquifer. A recent news story stated:

A sole-source designation means the aquifer is the only source of drinking water for people in the nine-county area; it would guarantee EPA protection against pollution under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The sole-source designation was suspended by the EPA in March 2013 following comments received in a study in April 2010.

Thanks to the U.S. EPA’s suspension of the Michindoh Aquifer’s sole-source designation, there are no federal laws prohibiting outside communities from tapping the Aquifer.

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Ed Kidston, the mayor of Pioneer, Ohio and the owner of Artesian of Pioneer, wants to tap the Michindoh Aquifer and sell the water to local communities for drinking purposes. First, Kidston must drill a well to test the feasibility of pumping copious amounts water from the Aquifer.

July 14, 2018 Toledo Blade report states that Toledo-area communities are looking at the possibility of gaining access to Michindoh Aquifer water:

City councils in Maumee and Sylvania want to explore the possibility of tapping into the aquifer and have agreed to conduct a study. Officials in Perrysburg, Whitehouse, Fulton County, Henry County, and the Northwestern Water & Sewer District also are considering the aquifer as an alternative to Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz’s plan to form a regional water commission.

The cost for each entity to perform the study, using a company called Artesian of Pioneer, depends on how many agree to it. The study’s total cost is capped at $35,000.

According to the Toledo Blade, Kidston’s:

… preliminary plans call for a pair of 36-inch pipes to be installed; one along the southern portion of the region and another to the north. An additional 36-inch line could be built along the eastern edge of Fulton County to connect the two lines and build redundancy in case either line needs to be shut down.

Mr. Kidston said above-ground storage would be built along the eastern border of the lines to supply each community for one day in case of an emergency. A treatment plant would also be constructed, although groundwater requires minimal treatment.

The Williams County Alliance has started a petition that states:

Artesian of Pioneer’s plan to make money by selling our drinking water to consumers outside the aquifer is self-serving and shortsighted.The Michindoh Aquifer is Williams County’s sole source of drinking water. If we lose it to depletion, we have no other economically feasible source of drinking water. Once a pipeline to extract and sell water to entities outside the aquifer is built, there will be no turning back. Rather than a business selling our drinking water for profit, we should conserve the aquifer for future generations.

The water of the Michindoh Aquifer is a precious resource that is essential for life. Water resources should not be privatized. Existing law needs to be changed to ensure that aquifers like the Michindoh remain sustainable sources of water for future generations.

Many of the people directly affected by Kidston’s commercial water operations are up in arms, demanding that local, county and state government put a stop to Kidston’s profiteering off of the Michindoh Aquifer — a finite resource. Kidston would have locals believe the Aquifer is a limitless resource that can easily handle pumping millions more gallons a day. The City of Bryan uses one million gallons of water a day. If Maumee, Sylvania, Perrysburg, Whitehouse, and other local communities start using Aquifer water, we are talking about millions of gallons of increased daily draw-down. Based on current rain and recharge levels, the Aquifer will, if Kidston gets his way, draw down faster than it can be replenished. And once this happens, communities such as Ney could face dry wells. And what happens then? Will Kidston be required to turn the tap off that supplies water to larger local communities? Of course not. Ney will just have to figure out how to best provide water for its insignificant, non-consequential 356 residents. This very scenario has played out countless times across the United States in recent years as commercial entities draw down water tables and cause dry or under-performing wells. Even worse, numerous ground drinking water supplies have been compromised by pollution and farm runoff.

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It is up to local, county, and state government officials to use their collective power to put an end to Ed Kidston’s money-making scheme to deplete the Michindoh Aquifer. Local leaders might argue that it is not against the law for Kidston to tap the Aquifer and sell its water to communities outside of the Michindoh watershed. However, just because someone CAN do something, doesn’t mean he should. This issue is clearly one of doing what is best for the people who rely on the Aquifer for drinking water.

Once Kidston starts pumping water to the highest bidder, there is no turning back. Not only will thirsty local communities be drawing millions of gallons of water a day out the Michindoh Aquifer, so will local manufacturing concerns and large-scale farming operations. The answer is to kill Kidston’s plan before it can gain traction. Local protests and anti-Kidston signs are important, but these alone will not stop Ed Kidston from continuing with his plan. Why? Because it is all about money. It’s always about money. If Kidston was concerned with doing what’s best for Northwest Ohio, Southern Michigan, and Eastern Indiana he would, without delay, cancel his plan to drill a test well. Unfortunately, every gallon pumped out the ground and sent eastward means more money for Artesian of Pioneer and its owner Ed Kidston.

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For Further Information

Save Michindoh Water

Save Our Water: Protect the Michindoh Aquifer Facebook Page

The Summer of 1968: Little League Baseball and Dad’s Corvair

bruce gerencser eighth grade

Summer of my eighth grade year, with my mom and a friend (that’s a Rambler in the background) My mom is five foot eight, so as you can see I was quite short at this age.

Several weeks ago, I attended my grandson’s Little League baseball game at the Ney park. In 2007, my wife and I bought a home in Ney, three blocks from the park. Ney is little more than a spot along Route 15, home to one stoplight, two bars/restaurants, one gas station, and 354 people. The park has several ball fields, one of which is used to play youth league baseball games. What makes Ney’s field unique is that it has lights. My grandson’s game had an eight o’clock start time, meaning that part of the game would be played under the not-so-bright lights. A half-hour before game time, I gathered up my Sony camera, my water bottle, and my oversized lawn chair and headed down to the park. Bethany, my twenty-eight-year-old daughter with Down Syndrome, gathered up her purse, water bottle, and backpack — filled with coloring books, colored pencils, and crayons – and headed down to the park with me.

I positioned myself just beyond the first base line so I could photograph the action. My grandson plays for Tinora. Their adversary for the night was a team of players made up of boys from Ney and the surrounding area. As I surveyed Ney’s players, I noticed that one of them, who was of slight build, had fiery red hair. Seeing this boy brought memories of another redheaded boy who played under the lights on this very field fifty years ago. In the spring of my fifth-grade year, my dad moved us from Harrod, Ohio to Farmer, a small community five miles west of Ney. We moved into a farm house two miles outside of Farmer, a home owned by my dad’s sister and brother-in-law. We would live there for two summers. During these summers, I played baseball for the Farmer Tigers. Back in the 1960s, country boys roamed the countryside, rode their bikes, went swimming, and if they were lucky, played baseball. I was never a great baseball player. If fifteen players were being picked for a team, I was always one of the last boys chosen. I had two things going for me: I was left-handed and I was a fast runner. By the time I made the Farmer team, I had already developed bad habits that hurt my ability to hit a baseball. These bad habits would follow me through Little League and into summer league high school baseball. Being slight of build and left-handed, I stood close to the plate when I batted. This made me an easy target for balls thrown by wild pitchers who were not used to throwing to left-handed batters. Over the course of the four years I played Little League baseball, I repeatedly got plunked in the head, back, and legs with wildly thrown pitches. These repeated beanings made me gun-shy, and my inability to stand in there and hit the ball turned me into an offensive liability. My coach for the two years I played for Farmer decided the best approach for my lack of offensive prowess was to have me bunt and run like hell. I was fast on my feet, and as a left-hander, I was two steps closer to first base than a right-handed batter.

I don’t remember my parents ever attending my games while I played for Farmer. On occasion, my father would pick me up after a game and take me home, especially if it was late and I would have to ride my bike home after dark. One night, Dad came to pick me up with his blue Corvair. For those not familiar with the Chevrolet Corvair, its motor was in the rear and its trunk was at the front. Dad opened the trunk so he could put my bicycle away. After doing so he shut the trunk so we could be on our way. For some reason, the trunk wouldn’t latch. After several attempts to get the trunk to latch shut, dad came up with an ingenious plan: he would have me lie down in the trunk and hold it down while he drove us home. And that’s what we did. At the time, I saw my ride in the trunk as a great adventure; and indeed it was as we bounced down Route 249 to our home. I suspect if my dad did the same thing today, child protective services would be paying him a visit the next day. I am sure some of the parents of my fellow baseball players wondered what Bob Gerencser was up to. Who in their right mind puts their son in the trunk? Right mind or not, this redheaded old man has never forgotten his ride home in the summer of 1968 — a time when war raged in Vietnam, race riots inflamed American cities, and assassins’ bullets claimed Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. This remains one of the few “good” memories I have of my father.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

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Eastern Gray Squirrel Loves Corn on the Cob

I recently added a new feature to our backyard feeders — dried corn on the cob. The goal is to draw squirrels to the living room window so I can photograph them. So far, four different squirrels have munched on the corn. The squirrels take a circuitous route to get to the corn. They begin their jaunt in the towering pine in our front yard. From there the squirrels jump on the two-story part of our house, run down the roof, jump on the one-story part, and make their way to the corn.

eastern gray squirrel

eastern gray squirrel

eastern gray squirrel

eastern gray squirrel

eastern gray squirrel

eastern gray squirrel

eastern gray squirrel

eastern gray squirrel

Local Christian Continues Attack On Bruce Gerencser, the Ney Atheist

angry man

How Dare the Ney Atheist Attack Our God

My letters to the editor of the Defiance Crescent-News often result in local Christians venting their spleen in my direction. I have no doubt that my recent letter about creationism will agitate the faithful, resulting in a new spate of letters denouncing evolution and atheism. Sometimes, letter writers make things personal. For example, here is a comment left by a local resident on the Crescent-News website:

crescent-news comment

Text:

Only problem that you have Gerencser is that you have yet to prove evolution is fact or disprove that there is a deity. So you really dont know any more then anyone else.. And isnt it so strange that you claim to be a minister from a diploma mill in Washington state and yet this is how you respond? Hows that working out for you since Ohio does not recognize this diploma mill? Hope you have not tried to marry anyone as the JAG of Ohio would not look too pleased if you did. Anonymous3371

I have a good idea who this asshole is, but since I don’t know for sure, I will refrain from attaching their name to this comment.  If you would like to read other Christian responses to my letters to the editor, please check out the new Local Response Page. This page is currently 12,000 words long. I will continue to add to it anytime there is a letter to the editor that mentions me by name. You can find all of my letters to the editor here.

Now, about the scurrilous allegations in the aforementioned comment.

On July 7, 2013, a local Fundamentalist Christian by the name of Daniel Gray wrote:

Bruce Gerencser should use facts in his letters. His latest rant is so full of errors as to make his point completely obtuse. Here are a few examples…

…The fact that Gerencser can marry anyone is laughable. He received his claimed ministerial credentials by professing a faith in a deity and swearing to follow that religions teachings. So unless he does so, then his authority to marry anyone under the same is null and void. Anyone he marries could actually find that they are not and never have been married. And last, the only way to change our Constitution is by a constitutional amendment…

…History and facts yet again destroy the views of Gerencser. He should be used to that by now.

Here’s my response to Gray:

This letter is my brief response to Daniel Gray’s recent letter to the editor.

Gray continues to paint me as a liar, a deceiver, immoral, and an all-round bad person. Gray does not know me personally, so I am not sure how he comes to the conclusions he does about me. I have never made one of my letters personal, yet Daniel Gray and a few other letter writers think it is okay to attack my character and suggest that I am not a good person.

As a public figure, I know I must endure such attacks, but I wish my critics would focus on the issues rather than the person. If they would like to have a public discussion on these issues, I am quite willing to participate in any public forum they put together.

On July 21, 2013, I wrote another letter to the Defiance Crescent-News stating:

For the third time Gray suggests that I am not legally able to marry people and that anyone married by me is in danger of having their marriage invalidated. Gray seems to not understand the legal requirements for being licensed to marry people in Ohio. I meet all the statutory requirements and I am duly licensed to marry people in Ohio. Anyone can verify this by doing a ministerial license search on the Ohio Secretary of state’s website.

On August 25 , 2013, fellow shit stirrer Willy Pack, came to my defense:

…Our secular government guarantees all of its citizens freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Fundamentalists, however, have made many clumsy attempts aimed at silencing Mr. Gerencser through intimidation and denigration.

Can anyone doubt that if they had the power of past ages, they would summon him before the court of the Inquisition? They all seem to be vying for the position of head inquisitor. What would be his crime other than not sharing their beliefs and daring to say so publicly? Are they really that intolerant of others’ beliefs or just afraid their beliefs cannot stand up to a little scrutiny?

With all of the different religions, denominations and sects on this planet, one thing is for certain: We are all going to hell according to somebody’s religion.

Once again, let me provide proof of my ordination and my legal right to perform weddings in the state of Ohio:

baptist ordination1983

Bruce Gerencser Ordination, Emmanuel Baptist Church, Buckeye Lake, Ohio April 2, 1983

Bruce Gerencser, Ohio License to Marry, May 2,1983

Bruce Gerencser, Ohio License to Marry, May 2,1983

universal life ordination

Bruce Gerencser, Universal Life Ordination, March 15, 2011

ohio license to marry 2

Bruce Gerencser, Ohio License to Marry, March 22, 2011

And here’s the final proof, straight from the Ohio Secretary of State’s Minister Licensing database:

ministerial license as of january 2015

Bruce Gerencser, Ohio Secretary of State Minister Licensing Database

I originally publicly posted these credentials in a January 23, 2015 post titled, Bruce Gerencser, The Ney, Ohio Atheist. Since this post, I have added ANOTHER ordination:

dudeism

Bruce Gerencser, Church of the Latter-Day Dude Ordination, November 28, 2015

The charge that I have a degree from a Washington state diploma mill is absurd. I attended Midwestern Baptist College from 1976-1979. I was an average student who worked a full-time job, attended church three times a week, ran a bus route, and preached at a drug rehab center while attending college. Need proof?

midwestern Baptist college transcript

Midwestern Baptist College Transcript for Bruce Gerencser 1976-1979

What’s next? Proof that I am circumcised? Proof that I am married, have six children, and eleven grandchildren?  Sadly, some local Christians have no shame. They are quite willing to smear me in public if it means it will make me look bad or cause others to question my credibility.

To Daniel Gray, Anonymous3371, and anyone else who seems to be obsessed with lying about me? I will let Mikey Wilson speak for me:

boy giving middle finger

The Least of These: Sparrows and Finches

Colder temperatures and snow have led to an increase of birds stopping by our feeders to eat. What follows are photographs of some of the sparrows and finches that have graced us with their presence. I love watching them swarm the feeders, only to quickly retreat at the slightest sound of unexpected movement. While many people find such birds boring, I am fascinated by their diversity, with no two birds exactly the same.  These photographs were shot from our living room window.

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The First Bernie Sanders Sighting in Defiance County, Ohio

Rural NW Ohio is home to an aging white Evangelical Republican super-majority. Even Democrats tend to skew to the right and many of the local mainline churches, traditionally bastions of liberalism, are conservative. As a liberal, democratic socialist, I’d be safe in saying you’d have a better chance of running into Barack Obama at the local coffee shop than you would meeting someone else who is as to the left as I am. Throw in the fact that I am an outspoken atheist…well, I am as rare as the ivory-billed woodpecker.  Add anti-gun, anti-hunting, and pro-choice to the mix and that makes me as rare as Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s conscience.

Raised in a fiercely partisan and right-wing home, I’ve never been shy about my political or religious beliefs. While I no longer share these beliefs with people who haven’t asked me to do so, I do shout them from the roof top on this blog and through letters to the editor of the local newspaper. When locals meet me they always seem perplexed. They have built up in their mind a certain picture of Bruce Gerencser; the spawn of Satan, a communist out to overthrow Christian America. In real life, I am just a loving husband, father, and grandfather, who just so happens to be a leftist and an atheist. I’m the guy who wears a Cincinnati Reds hat and suspenders; the man who is seen taking photographs at ballgames and public events.

I am a big fan of Bernie Sanders. He best represents my political beliefs and I plan on supporting him as he attempts to become the 2016 Democratic candidate for President. Is Sanders electable? I don’t know, but I refuse to support a Democratic candidate, at least at the primary level, who is Democrat-lite. If Sanders fails to win the nomination then I will get out a clothes pin, attach it to my nose, and support whoever the Democratic candidate is. Until then, I’m supporting Bernie.

bernie sanders 2016

Bernie Sanders for President Sign in Our Front Yard

As far as I know, our sign is the first Bernie for President sign in Defiance County. Hopefully, it is not the last. You can purchase your own sign here.

 

The Mighty Maple and Pine Tree

house 2014

House 2014

Sometime in the latter part of the 19th century, someone built a small farmhouse on the edge of the small, bustling community of Williamstown. In time, Williamstown became Ney and these farmers planted a maple tree and pine tree in their front yard, near the dirt road local residents used to travel  between the communities of Defiance, Bryan, Farmer, Sherwood, Williams Center, and Mark Center. Over time, these tree grew and by 2015 they became two of the largest trees in Ney.

pine tree 2012

Pine tree 2012

The pine tree, eight feet in diameter at its base, towers above the south side of the farmhouse, providing shade for the new family who lives there. Throughout the year, the pine tree drops cones that litter the ground and plug the gutters.  The tree seems healthy, year after year producing buds that turn into cones. Its fallen cones and needles require frequent removal to the compost pile, but the shade provided by this majestic tree makes this work of little importance.

The maple tree, now seven feet in diameter, sits to the west of the pine tree, near the edge  of US Hwy 15. Its vast branches provide plenty of shade on a warm Ohio summer day, and every morning the songbirds sit in its branches serenading anyone who takes time to listen.   Every year, save one, since the new owners have lived in the farmhouse, the maple tree has thrown its seeds to the wind, plugging gutters and taking root in the gravel parking lot around its base. And every year, its seeds find out-of-the-way spots to take up root, hoping the new owners will let it live.

The maple tree is not as healthy as the pine tree. Its age is evident, and every thunderstorm drops a dead branch from its vast expanse. Towering twenty feet above the peak of the farmhouse, the maple tree has seen ten or so decades come and go. People in the farmhouse have lived, moved, and died, and its current residents expect the mighty maple tree will outlive them too.

house 2013

House 2013

Five years ago, knowing that someday the inevitable will happen and the maple tree will die, the new owners of the farmhouse planted a new maple tree, just like the unknown owners did a century ago. This wisp of a tree, now twelve feet tall and seven inches in diameter, will one day tower over the northeast corner of the property. That is, if the future owners of the farmhouse see beyond the present and let it plug their gutters too. The current farmhouse dwellers think like this: enjoy the present by planting bushes and flowers, but don’t forget the children of children of children.  Plant trees that future generations will admire and enjoy. They will be a living reminder to all who dare to pay attention; that a man and woman and their mentally handicapped daughter cared about the world they lived in.

maple tree 2014

Like the maple tree, someday, sooner than later, the man and woman in the farmhouse, will die. Like the maple tree, there’s a rot growing slowly inside of them. It will one day consume them, returning them to the earth from whence they came.

Things I HATE About Shopping at Meijer and Most Other Grocery Stores

meijer

We live in a small, rural, NW Ohio community, population 345.  The village of Ney has one traffic light, two bars, one gas station, and two people who seriously doubt God exists.  Both of the local bars serve food, one is a mom and pop style restaurant and the other is a pizza joint.

The closest town is Bryan, five miles away. Bryan has a few fast food restaurants,a Chief Supermarket, and a Walmart.  Defiance, ten miles away, is the biggest community in Defiance County with a population just south of 17,000. Defiance has a plethora of fast food restaurants,a small mall, a few full service restaurants, and a small collection of free-standing big-box/small-box stores. There are five grocery stores in Defiance: Walmart, Aldi, Chief, Meijer, and Kroger.

Serious shopping requires a fifty mile drive to Toledo or a forty mile drive to Fort Wayne.  For this reason and others, my favorite store is Amazon.com.  I don’t have to get in the car and I don’t have to holler at Polly except when UPS or FedEx is at the door. When we want to eat a nice meal that’s more upscale than Applebee’s or McDonald’s we go to Toledo or Fort Wayne. Most of the time we go to Fort Wayne.

Our favorite grocery store is Meijer. Meijer is a regional grocery chain  based in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  We also like shopping at Chief Supermarket, a local grocery company. Due to the loathsome politics of the Walton family, we hate shopping at Walmart. But, thanks to having more budget than money, we are forced, from time to time, to give Satan some of our money. We eat a lot of fish and Walmart is the best place for buying frozen fish and Zero candy bars. Brisket too. Walmart is the only store in town that sells brisket, a must have cut of meat during BBQ season. We also infrequently shop at Aldi and we try to shop at Chief as often as we can. Our youngest daughter and son work part-time for Chief, so we view our grocery purchases as job security for them. We do not shop at Kroger. High prices and those damn cards they make customers use make Kroger our least favorite store. We also regularly buy meat from Jacob’s Meats, located just north of Defiance.

I am the primary shopper in our family. I know, a little Susie homemaker I am, a discredit to the male species. Polly and I shop together, but I am the one who checks prices and quantities and decides what to buy. We have a white board in the kitchen and shopping needs are supposed to be written on the board. Did you notice the word supposed? (Polly is glaring at me, giving me the finger without ever raising her hand) We use coupons, shop with a list, use mPerks, and always pay with a debit/credit card.

Going to the grocery is often the only time I get out of the house. Most often, I haltingly enter the store, already in pain. About fifteen minutes into our low price safari, my thighs and face begin to burn and turn numb. Not long after, I need to lean on the cart just to partially stand up.  By the time we are finished shopping, I am in tremendous pain and ready for a four Vicodin with vodka drink. I dream of this, but the reality is I am very careful with the medications I take, so it’s  two Vicodin with a glass of water and a Tramadol chaser.

There are a lot of things that irritate me when I go to the grocery store, If you have some illusion that I am a Zen-like person who has perfect peace and calm as he painfully shuffles down the aisles of the grocery, I am sorry that your illusion is about to be destroyed.

I love shopping at Meijer. I am a Meijer fan-boy.  Anything I can do to stick it to Walmart, I am all for it. But, as much as I like shopping at Meijer, there are some things that irritate me. I mean really, really, really irritate me.

Bruce’s, Top 21 Things I Hate About Shopping at Meijer:

  • My number one irritation is the greeters, well really just one greeter.  This one greeter is an automaton. I kid you not, she says the exact same thing, with the exact same cadence, every damn time. When we come in the store she says in her best robot voice, Welcome to Meijer.  When we leave the store she says Have a nice day, thank you for shopping at Meijer. Have you ever seen the comedy Good Burger? If so, this greeter is just like the one Good Burger worker who says, Welcome to Good Burger, home of the Good Burger! Can I take your order?
  • Shopping carts that have squeaky wheels or wheels that go thump, thump.
  • The way the meat department stacks meat above the cooling line in the meat coolers. I have complained to the manager and I have called the health department. Evidently, no one seems to care that some meat products are not kept at a proper temperature.
  • Advertised items not stocked. Every week we have to go ask someone for a sale item or we have to go to the service desk to request a rain check.
  • Fish that is on sale, but the meat department never seems to have in stock. This happens EVERY week.
  • Deli clerks who stand fifteen feet away and say, can I help you? No, of course not. I’ve been standing here for five minutes waiting for you to finish washing dishes. No hurry, I know Meijer doesn’t want to sell me any food from the deli.
  • Produce clerks who refuse to restock the counters until that last smashed tomato is purchased or the last three ears of corn are dutifully placed in a yellow bag ten times bigger than the measly sized ears of corn.
  • Deli clerks who ask me three times how much ham I want. Did I stutter? One pound and not one hundredth of an ounce over. Can’t you see that I am on a diet?
  • People who are too lazy to put items they don’t want back where they belong. Polly found a thawed out frozen cake that some lazy ass had dumped. The only worse thing? The Meijer clerk probably put it back in the freezer.
  • Not necessarily only a Meijer problem, but I hate the size game that food producers play, A quart is no longer a quart. An 18 ounce jar of peanut butter is now 15 ounces. I am very good at spotting packaging that has been reworked to hide a reduction in the amount of product.  I think I would make a good spy for Consumer Reports.
  • Shopping for toilet paper. Am I the only  person who thinks we are getting ripped off one sheet at time? It is becoming harder and harder to figure out exactly how much toilet paper you are getting in your single, double, triple, mega toilet paper roll. Is it single ply or double ply? Is it twice as strong or just every day get your fingers poopy strong?
  • People who stand in the middle of the aisle during busy times. No matter how long I stand there and give them the Gerencser glare, they seemingly are oblivious to anything but their middle of the aisle bull session.
  • Ditto that for people who seem to only use the motorized carts on the busiest days of the week. I am all for handicapped people being able to shop, but a little common sense about it would be very helpful.
  • Cashiers who don’t know their veggies. How many times have I heard “what are these?” Sometimes, when we buy a lot of  veggies I tell the cashier that I work for Meijer Corporate office and I am testing their veggie knowledge. The younger the cashier the fewer number of veggies they can name.
  • Scanners that don’t work at the self-checkout. When I have to get help three times, that is three times too many. What makes it worse is when the clerk says “Yeah, we have had a problem with that one all day.” Argh…cuss in mind, but smile with my fake I love Jesus smile.
  • Stockers who think that their shelf stocking takes precedence over my ability to get down the aisle. Sometimes I will, without saying a word, move their cart. Oh the dirty looks , but I think they get the point.
  • Dirty bathrooms. Never clean enough for me. I expect clean floors to splatter urine on. I hate electric hand dryers. Give me paper towels or give me death by unwashed hands.
  • People who glare at me when I park in a handicapped space. I DO have a placard, but evidently I don’t look disabled enough. I look too young or I don’t “look” disabled, even though I walk with a cane. Never mind that going to the store, to that one store, often takes every bit of my energy, not only for that day, but for two days later. Sometimes, but I never do, I want to wave at them with my middle finger raised high.
  • Not stocking hats and shirts for fans of the Cincinnati Reds and Cincinnati Bengals. Browns, Lions, Indians, and Tigers? What, isn’t Cincinnati in Ohio? Not that I would buy hats and shirts from Meijer if they stocked them. The last time I checked, Meijer’s price for a cheap snap back hat was more than what I paid for a fitted, game day hat. I know my hats.
  • Not stocking candy bars I like to eat. Come on, Meijer, how about Clark, Zero, and Zagnut bars?
  • Not stocking Paczki’s all year. I know you stock them for Catholics loading up on calories before Lent, but some of us like to pig out 365 days a year. Same goes for chocolate frosted long john donuts. When I want a donut, I want a donut and it better be 6:00 AM fresh no matter what time of day it is.

I love shopping at Meijer. Now if they would just take my list of irritations and fix them I would be extremely happy. After all, the customer is always right.

One Mother’s Attempt to Get Her Children to Pick Up After Themselves

My youngest daughter is looking for a house to rent and she had me look at a home here in Ney that is $21,900 cash or $1,200 down and $434 a month. Less than ten years ago, the house sold for $77,910. The people who last owned it proceeded to trash the place and defaulted on their loan after they divorced. Last month, a distressed property company in New York bought the house for $13,050. The house has sat empty for four years.

The Ohio housing market is still in the toilet, so I thought maybe this house would be a good opportunity for my daughter and her boyfriend. Well, this house gives new meaning to the word fixer-upper. The inside of the house looks like monkeys on crack went through the house defecating and urinating as they beat holes in the walls with a hammer. Seeing such things makes me wonder if some of my fellow Homo sapiens have evolved. In fact, I suspect cave men treated their caves better than the people who last lived in this house.

That said, the foundation is pretty good, and the house has a new roof, gutters, and recent siding. For the right price, the house could be restored to its former glory. Evidently, the older gentleman who lived there years ago kept the house up. Replace all the carpet, fix the walls, paint everything, and the house would at least be livable.

While looking at the house, I noticed the following written on the living room wall:

pick up your stuff

According to one neighbor, the family had four children who pretty much did what they wanted. I doubt this message caused the children to pick up their stuff. Why should they? Their parents had them living in dump and showed no care for their own property. You can’t expect kids to care if you don’t. I’ve lived in a lot of old, junky houses over the years. My parents were poor and our housing reflected it. But, every house we lived in was kept clean. Mom taught us that there is no shame in being poor and just because you don’t have anything doesn’t mean you have to live like a pig.  Polly and I passed on this ethic to our children and that is why they have a hard time fathoming how someone could destroy their home and turn their yard into a landfill.

 

Black Squirrel, Up Close and Personal

I have one of my cameras with a 150-500mm lens set on tripod by the living room window so I can take photographs of the birds, cats, squirrels, and other wildlife that inhabit our backyard. Today, a black squirrel hopped on the fence just outside the window. I’ve seen him do this before, but every time I try to take his photograph, he sees me and scampers off. Today, I won the battle. I was able to stand off to the side and actuate the shutter. Not as focused as it would have been if I had been directly behind the camera, but not bad. I shot eight frames in rapid fashion. Here are four of them.

black squirrel

black squirrel 2

black squirrel 3

black squirrel 4

 

Does Racism Exist in Rural Northwest Ohio?

etch a sketch

The Etch-a-Sketch is made by Ohio Art, a Bryan Ohio Company. Once Manufactured in Bryan, it is now Made Overseas.

I am a member of the Growing Up in Bryan, Ohio Facebook group. The group is made up of people who live/lived in Bryan, Ohio. Recently, the subject of racism was brought up and this provoked a lively discussion about the state of race relations in Bryan. This got me to thinking: does racism still exist in rural NW Ohio and Bryan? Have we reached a place where we live in a post-racial era? Before I answer this question, I want to spend some time talking about demographics and my own experiences as a resident of northwest Ohio.

My father grew up on a farm three miles south of Bryan and attended Bryan High School. My mother moved to Bryan as a teenager. Both of them worked for local Bryan businesses such as K&R Cleaners, The Hub, Carroll Ames, and Bryan Trucking. My father was part of a close-knit ethnic Hungarian group that settled in the Bryan area. My parents considered Bryan home and in 1957 it became my home. My brother and sister were also born in Bryan.

Even though I have spent most of my life living other places, Bryan is home for me. Try as I might to flee the boring flatlands of Bryan and rural northwest Ohio, I consider Bryan my home. Over the years, I’ve lived in California, Michigan, Texas, Arizona, and southeast Ohio. I’ve also lived in or near the northwest Ohio communities of Farmer, Deshler, Harrod, Alvordton, Mt. Blanchard, and Findlay. Currently, I live in Ney, six miles south of Bryan.

Bryan was settled in 1840 and is the seat of Williams County. In 1950, the population was 6,365 people. In 2010, the population was 8,545 people.  Bryan saw a 12.9% population growth between 1970 and 1980 and 5.9% growth between 1980 and 1990. Since 1990, the population has grown 8.2%.

According to the 2010 US Census:

  • 94.3% (8,056) of Bryan residents are white
  • .6% (47) Black
  • .9% (73) Asian
  • .2% (14) Native American
  • .1% (5) Pacific Islander
  • 2.0% (170) Mixed Race
  • 5.1% (436) Hispanic or Latino

Statistics taken from 2010 US Census Report

The Bryan of today is more racially diverse than at any time in its 175 year history. While this is good news, the reason for the diversity is non-white medical professionals moving to Bryan to work for the local hospital and medical group and white-collar professionals moving here to work for local companies. This diversity is primarily driven by economics.

The Bryan of my youth was 100% white. I was five years old before I saw a black person for the first time, a porter at the Chicago train station. As a teenager, I was told by one proud and ignorant Bryanite that Bryan was 100% white and proud of it. According to him, any black caught in town after dark was run out of town. I suspect his attitude was quite common

In the 1970s, I attended high school in Findlay, Ohio, a community 75 miles southeast of Bryan. The 1970 population of Findlay was 35,800 people. Like Bryan, Findlay was as white as white could be. There were two black students who attended Findlay High School and they were brother and sister. Today, .3% (886) of Findlay residents are black.

In the mid-1970s, I attended a Baptist church in Bryan. I can still remember the day that a woman who once attended the church and moved away, returned home with her new black husband. Oh, the racist gossip that ran wild through the church: why, what was she thinking…marrying a black man! Think of the children! It was not long before she and her husband moved on to another church.

It was not until I moved to Pontiac, Michigan to attend Midwestern Baptist College that I came into close contact with blacks. Freshman year, one of my roommates was a black man from Philadelphia. The college was connected with nearby Emmanuel Baptist Church. Emmanuel ran numerous bus routes into Pontiac and Detroit, busing in thousands of blacks. Most of the children from Detroit attended B Sunday school. The B was the designation given for the afternoon Sunday school. It was not long before I figured out that the B stood for black. When an overtly racist man became the bus pastor, one of the first things he did was stop running the buses to Detroit. We were told this was due to budget restraints, but many of us thought the real reason was race.

The college and church were located in a bad part of Pontiac. (Some might argue, is there a good part of Pontiac?)  The projects were nearby and the area east of the college was decidedly black. My experiences with the local black community, with its rundown housing and rampant crime, helped to reinforce the racist stereotypes I had been taught by my parents. It didn’t help that gangs of black youth repeatedly broke into the dormitory and ransacked the place while everyone was at church. A few years back, the college relocated to an overwhelmingly white community.

My parents, typical of their generation, were racists. It is impossible to paint the picture any other way. Whether their racism was from their own upbringing or their membership in the John Birch Society, they made no apology for their fundamentalist Christian-driven racism. They had a special hatred for Martin Luther King, Jr. My mother thought King got exactly what he deserved when he was assassinated in 1968. Like it or not, this is my heritage.

In the 1980s, Polly and I lived in southeast Ohio. For a number of years we were foster parents. One of children we cared for was black. We had made arrangements to rent a house outside of Somerset, Ohio where I was pastoring at the time, from a retired school teacher. When we looked at the house we did not have our foster child with us. Several days before we supposed to move in, the matronly pillar of the community called and said that she decided to not rent the house. We found out later that she told people that she was not going to have a nigger living in her house.

We moved to New Lexington, Ohio and enrolled our foster child in the local public school, thinking little about how hard it might be for her to be the only black kid in the school.  Needless to say, she was subjected to daily racial taunts. One day, the principal called us and said our foster child had created a disturbance in class. One of her classmates had called her a nigger and she threw her book at her taunter and stormed out of class.

I was quite upset at her behavior. Having never walked in her shoes, I had no way of knowing what it was like to be singled out and taunted. I gave her the stern Pastor Gerencser lecture, reminding her that she was accountable for behavior and that she couldn’t respond this way every time someone called her a nigger. While my words had a ring of truth to them, they were quite insensitive and showed that I didn’t have a clue about how difficult it was for her.

In the mid-1980s, the church I pastored had a black missionary come and present his work. I took the missionary on a tour of area and we stopped at the Somerset Snack Bar for lunch. The Snack Bar was where locals hung out and it was always a busy hive of storytelling and news. The Snack Bar was quite noisy when we walked in the door, but as patrons glanced up to see who was walking in, the noise quickly dissipated. I later learned that several of the locals were upset over the Baptist preacher bringing a nigger into the Snack Bar.

In 1995, I moved back home to northwest Ohio, pastoring a church in Alvordton for a short time and pastoring a church in West Unity for seven years. Polly and I have lived in this area now for 17 of the last 20 years. This is our home. Our six children and ten grandchildren all live within 20 minutes of our home.

It was during my time as pastor of Our Father’s House in West Unity, that I began to address my own latent racism and the racism that percolated under the surface of the local community. As my politics began to move to the left, my preaching took on a social gospel flavor and this included preaching on race, racism, and race relations.

When a church member would talk about colored people I would ask them, so what color were they? Oh you know what I mean, preacher! Yes, I do. So, how is the color of their skin germane to the story you are telling? I did the same when members talked about “those” people, those meaning blacks, Mexicans, or welfare bums.

What made things difficult was that we had a black man attending the church. He was a racist’s dream, the perfect stereotype. He was on welfare, didn’t work, lived in Section 8 housing, had an illegitimate child, and spent most of his waking hours trying to figure out how to keep from working. The church financially helped him several times and we brought him groceries on numerous occasions. One time he called me and told me he needed groceries. I told him that I would have someone bring over some groceries. He then told me, preacher, I’m a meat and potato man, so I don’t want no canned food. Bring me some meat. He’s still waiting for those groceries to be delivered.

As I read the comments on the Growing Up in Bryan, Ohio Facebook group, I noticed that there was an age divide. Older people such as I thought Bryan was still, to some degree, racist, while younger people were less inclined to think Bryan residents were racist or they thought local racists were a few bad apples. I think that this reflects the fact that race relations are markedly better now this area.

The reasons are many:

  • Older generations, those raised in the days of race riots, Martin Luther King Jr., and Jim Crow are dying off.
  • Local residents are treated by doctors who are not white.
  • Interracial couples now live in the area.
  • Migrants workers, once a part of the ebb and flow of the farming season, are now permanent residents.
  • Younger adults and teenagers no longer think race is a big deal.
  • Music and television have brought the world to our doorstep, allowing us to experience other cultures.
  • Sports, in which the majority of athletes in the three major professional sports — football, basketball, and baseball — are non-white. Cable and satellite TV broadcast thousands of college and professional games featuring non-white players.

Exposure breeds tolerance. Bigoted attitudes about gays and same-sex marriage are on prominent display in rural northwest Ohio. These attitudes remind me of how things once were when it came to race. Time and exposure to people who are different from us can’t help but change how we view things like race and sexual orientation. My children are quite accepting and tolerant of others, and I hope that these attitudes will be passed on to my grandchildren. We are closer today than we ever have been to Martin Luther King’s hope of “a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

We haven’t arrived. Latent, subtle racism must continue to be challenged. Unfortunately, on both sides of the political divide, there are those who use race and fear to stoke distrust and hate of those who are different. We  must forcefully marginalize those who want to return America to the 1950s. We must also be willing to judge our own attitudes about race. We enlightened liberals gleefully look at the extreme right and we see racism and bigotry in all its glory. Yet, if we are honest, such things exist in our own backyard. None of us can rest until we have achieved a post-racial world. We have much work to do.

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