Archive for the ‘Blade | Miscellaneous’ Category

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 17

Cliff “Zak” Zakrzewski, a former Toledo police officer who stayed active after his retirement, died Sunday in Toledo Hospital. He was 71.

The cause of death was pancreatic cancer, family members said.

Mr. Zakrzewski was born and raised in Toledo and attended Woodward High School. Immediately after graduating in 1945, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy for the tail end of World War II and was stationed in the Philippines.

After leaving the Navy, he returned to Toledo and started work at the Willys Overland plant, working in the Jeep body shop. He remained at Willys until joining the Toledo police department in the 1950s.

“He had a great way of working with people as a policeman, because everybody respected him,” said Tricia Hines, one of his daughters. At various times, Mr. Zakrzewski was a neighborhood beat cop, a downtown traffic controller, and dispatcher. In one incident she remembered, her father talked a distraught man out of committing suicide.

Throughout his time on the force, he kept up with one of his hobbies: drumming. A former drum major at Woodward, he spent nearly every weekend as an adult performing big band jazz and Polish music at neighborhood weddings, and he played in a local drum-and-bugle corps.

“His father had been a drummer before him, and he gave him lessons and got him started,” Ms. Hines said.

After 30 years on the force, he retired in 1984. He played golf regularly in two police retiree leagues, and he kept playing golf until a week before his death. He did lawn work for elderly neighbors, built model cars for his nephew, and did chauffeur work for Owens-Illinois.

“He loved helping people,” his daughter said. “His life revolved around being active and happy and helping others.”

One of his favorite activities was taking a long drive every Sunday afternoon “if the weather was good,” she said. “We might drive 200 miles on a Sunday, a mini-adventure. We’d go to Indiana or to Michigan. It just relaxed him, the fresh air, looking at new places and learning about them,” she said.

He was a member of the Fraternal Order of Police, Toledo Police Patrolman’s Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and American Legion.

Surviving are his wife, Alice; two daughters, Tricia Hines and Pamela Rybka; two brothers, Lucien and Richard Zakrzewski, and a sister, Betty Dossatt.

The body will be at the Walker Funeral Home, Maumee, after 2 p.m. tomorrow. Mass will be held Thursday at St. Hedwig Catholic Church. The time has not been set.

The family requests tributes be made to St. Hedwig Parish.


By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 37

It comes about 68 seconds into the song, a new single from Toronto-based Sloan, and it’s a moment that let’s you understand this most remarkable of bands.

The song, “Money City Maniacs,” starts off with sirens and crunchy guitar riffs, then propels into a killer rock backbeat. It’s next to impossible to avoid bobbing your head. The first couple of verses go by, and then it’s time for the chorus:

And the joke is/ when he awoke his/

body was covered in Coke fizz.


“We wrote that song on stage in front of 10,000 people,” says guitarist Jay Ferguson. “Patrick [Pentland, the guitarist] started playing the riff and somebody just made up the words to fit the rhythm. You know, when Paul McCartney wrote ‘Yesterday,’ he called it ‘Scrambled Eggs,’ because ‘Scrambled Eggs’ fit the rhythm and it was something to sing until he changed it to something that made sense.

“Unfortunately, we never changed ours.”

There, in a nutshell, is what has made Sloan one of the best pop bands performing today: a Beatles reference, a sense of humor, and a killer song. With those in hand, a band can conquer the world, or at least Canada.

Sloan has spent the 1990s as quite possibly the biggest band in our neighbor to the north. How big? Big enough to sell out 40,000-seat arenas in Toronto. Big enough to start minor riots during in-store appearances in Vancouver. Big enough for the Canadian music magazine Chart to issue four commemorative covers when their latest record, “Navy Blues,” came out. Big enough for “Navy Blues” to go gold in only three weeks.

The band’s attempts at conquering America have turned out about as well as their country’s did in the War of 1812. But that’s, quite frankly, America’s fault: Sloan’s mix of smart songwriting, irresistable hooks, and general sweetness should be a natural.

Some of Sloan’s biggest American successes have come in Ohio, which is essentially Lower Canada for their purposes. The airwaves of Canadian radio extend over Lake Erie; In Toledo, listeners of Windsor station CIMX-FM 88.7 have gotten a pretty steady dose of Sloan for the last five or six years.

The lucky Americans who know about Sloan border on the maniacal in their devotion. “We get fans who drive 20 hours to come to our shows,” Ferguson says. “We see a lot of the same faces at our shows in Detroit, Cleveland, Dayton, Columbus, Toledo.”

At the band’s last Toledo show, in September, the Main Event was packed with fans, and just about every last one knew the words to every last song.

Sloan appears tonight at 9 at the Main Event. Opening acts will be Jr. Electric and the Deadly Snakes. Tickets are $10 in advance.

The band’s mainstream success in Canada has given them something usually reserved for superstars: artistic freedom. “We don’t have to make the same record over and over again to please radio or somebody at a label,” Ferguson says. “We’ve built enough of a following in Canada that our fans will accept the kind of record we give them.”

They’ve certainly been all over the map in their four releases. Their first record was straightforward, although especially good, “alternative” music. Their follow-up, 1994’s breakthrough “Twice Removed,” is as close to pure pop music as they’ve come. “One Chord to Another” (1997) was a blast of 1960s allusions, with Chicago-style trumpets and Beatlesy backbeats.

And “Navy Blues” sounds like it could have been 1972’s Record of the Year, with its crunchy glam guitars and its hard-rock posing.

“To go back to the Beatles, ‘Rubber Soul’ was a very different record from ‘Revolver,’ which was a very different record from ‘Sgt. Pepper,'” Ferguson says. “And the White Album is another left turn. We’re like that in that we don’t want to just keep pumping out B-plus versions of our last C-minus album.”

Sloan’s four members – Ferguson, Pentland, bassist Chris Murphy, and drummer Andrew Scott – all sing and write songs, and the different voices come across clearly on record. Considering how much of an obvious influence The Beatles are on their sound, it was only a matter of time before somebody compared the Fab Four to the Canuck Quartet.

“I’ve heard that Andrew is John, the natural, the genius, the non-methodical thinker,” Ferguson says. “Chris is Paul, the guy who wants everybody to get along. Patrick is the quiet George. And I guess that leaves me with Ringo.”

For the record, Ferguson doesn’t like the Beatles comparisons. But the four personalities have let fans on the Internet and at concerts focus on their favorite Sloan. “I think it’s great. It’s like with Kiss, where some kid could think, ‘Paul Stanley’s lame, but Ace Frehley-he’s cool.”

There won’t be any makeup on stage tonight, but could it be that a Sloan Army isn’t far off? Lesser bands have invaded America successfully.

By Joshua Benton and Kim Bates
Blade Staff Writers

Page A16


After the area’s nasty bout with winter last week – when snow became a four-letter word – local residents were thankful that Friday night’s storm whimpered instead of roared.

“This is nothing,” said David Archer, 36, who was shoveling the light accumulation the snow shower left on the walkway to his West Toledo home. “I’m happy to do this.”

About three inches of snow fell in Toledo on Friday and early yesterday morning. Forecasters had feared up to six inches, but the unexpected speed of the storm meant it left the area more quickly than expected.

“After last week, I think Toledo can deal with three inches of snow,” said Laura Hannon, a forecaster for AccuWeather, Inc., a private forecasting service based in State College, Pa.

The snow that fell – which reached four inches in some parts of the region – was nowhere near as troubling for residents and city street crews as last weekend’s blast, when eight inches of snow, blowing winds, and freezing rain made travel hazardous and trapped many in their homes.

“This system was not nearly as powerful,” Ms. Hannon said. She said that areas south of Toledo, from Findlay southward, did experience some freezing rain Friday afternoon.

And after a week of wrestling with ice and slush, drivers were treated to mostly bare pavement on Toledo’s major streets.

“It wasn’t really bad at all,” said Jesse Graham, manager of the city’s division of streets, bridges, and harbor. “We are still plugging away.”

In southeastern Michigan, the main roads were dry and most sidewalks had been shoveled. But for some people, the hard work was just beginning.

Tim Allshouse and his son, Chris, 14, were busy with two shovel’s atop the roof of Mr. Allshouse’s father’s home in Adrian.

The father-son duo carefully was moving around the roof, trying not to fall, as they threw snow and ice to the ground. Tim Allshouse said his father, Lee, 75, had discovered a leak inside his home just hours before.

“We’re doing grandpa a favor,” Tim Allshouse said. “We don’t want him on the roof.”

Inside the home, several buckets had been placed on the floor to collect water as it dripped from the ceiling.

Tim Allshouse said he planned to clear most of the roof and then take a break from all weather work. His son planned to resume studying for exams.

Despite the improved weather, some streets remained unplowed. Frederick Smith, who lives on Chesbrough Street in East Toledo, said his street has not been plowed at all since last weekend’s storm.

“We cleared all the cars off the street, but no one came to plow,” he said. “Then someone parked on the street a couple of days ago, and now a plow couldn’t come through.”

City officials have repeatedly asked residents to remove cars from their streets to allow plowing.

Mr. Smith said that, when he needs to drive down his street, he “gets a good running start and hopes no one’s coming at the intersection” with Navarre Avenue.

Adrian resident Robert Burke was spending the day exploring in Blissfield.

He was casually licking a Moose Tracks ice cream cone as he waited outside an antique store for his wife.

“There’s something about cold ice cream and cold weather. They go together,” Mr. Burke said. “It’s just a beautiful day today. I’m not worried about the weather.”

Jane Tuckerman, co-owner of the consignment store Treasures and Pleasures in Blissfield, said business was back to normal yesterday after a slow week.

“I think when the sun comes out, that really helps,” she said.

Last weekend, most of the store owners here had to shut down their businesses on both Saturday and Sunday.

The region’s good luck is scheduled to continue. Ms. Hannon said another, even weaker system is scheduled to hit the region today, but it will give only a dusting of snow, perhaps an inch or two of light powder.

The projected high is 20 degrees; the low tonight should be 10.

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 1

Saturday was the day of the storm. Yesterday was the day to dig out.

After the nastiness of 1999’s opening blast of snow, Toledo took to shovels and plows yesterday to slowly clean up nature’s mess.

As the day wore on, the shifting snow dunes shrank to more manageable piles, and the area’s major roadways again became fair game for drivers. Restaurants and stores caked by snow in the morning started to open by afternoon.

In the end, about eight inches fell on Toledo, with up to 15 inches reported in the surrounding area.

At least two deaths were attributed to the storm. In Lenawee County, 40-year-old Mark Gore was killed yesterday when his vehicle was broadsided by another vehicle that had run a stop sign. And in Toledo, an 84-year-old woman, Alice Dickerson, died yesterday after walking outside of her retirement community and falling in the snow.

And while the storm has passed, northwest Ohio and southeastern Michigan will be feeling its effects for a while longer, as cold weather and heavy winds will continue today. Road crews in Toledo said they hope to have all residential streets cleared by tomorrow morning – if everything works according to plan.

They, along with other crews throughout the region, faced a network of roads hard hit by the storm. Hundreds of plows cleared roadways, only to see more snow blow in, or freezing rain coat them with layers of ice.

In Toledo, the city’s division of streets, bridges, and harbor sent more than 100 pieces of equipment out on the streets, including 38 front-line salt trucks and 31 other city vehicles equipped with plows. Private contractors were put in charge of hauling snow out of downtown Toledo.

By afternoon, the city had completed clearing all major streets in Toledo and were making their way to bus routes and areas near schools and hospitals. A few crews were also working on residential streets, and city officials predicted that 90 per cent of city streets would be passable by this morning.

By this morning, city crews will have spread almost 4,000 tons of salt, said Jesse Graham, superintendent of the streets, bridges, and harbor division.

Road crews clearing the roads ran into a few problems from snowmobilers taking advantage of the weather conditions. “I had two guys pass me on snowmobiles while I was plowing on Alexis Road,” said city worker Tom Stelmaszak. “It’s a problem with us trying to do our jobs.”

They will have to fight Mother Nature some more. Forecasts of freezing rain overnight meant city officials expected to have to pull crews from residential areas to refocus on major streets.

The Ohio Department of Transportation’s District 2 had at least 80 plows in the eight counties of northwest Ohio overnight Saturday through yesterday, and they were still at full force yesterday afternoon. ODOT crews have been working in two 12-hour shifts since midnight Saturday.

“We are doing our best.” said James Faught, ODOT spokesman. “But the freezing rain Saturday made it more of a difficult situation.”

In some areas, trucks dropped salt, only to have it blown right off the roadways before it could have any effect.

To keep the main routes open, ODOT pulled the trucks off the less traveled U.S. and state routes, Mr. Faught said.

As of early last night, crews were still working on the region’s main routes: I-75, I-475, I-280, U.S. 24, State Rt. 2, U.S. 20, and U.S. 20A.

Southern Michigan faced some of the heaviest snowfalls. Tecumseh residents were warned to stay indoors after the city got hit with about 15 inches of snow Saturday night.

“The whole county is under a snow emergency,” Tecumseh police officer Jim Less said. “We had knee-high drifts.

“The roads in town are not so bad, but many county roads are pretty bad,” he said.

Ray’s Perrysburg Marathon, the area’s largest AAA emergency road service provider, reported 160 runs yesterday and 190 Saturday. That’s more than double of what could be expected on a regular winter weekend, said dispatcher Tom Carroll.

Some of Toledo’s biggest institutions took the day off. The Toledo Museum of Art and the Center of Science and Industry both shut down; in the museum’s case, it was the first closing in almost 20 years. Churches all across the city canceled Sunday services, and school districts scrambled to see whether classes could be held today.

School wasn’t scheduled to reopen from its holiday break until Tuesday in Toledo Public Schools, and officials at all suburban and most area schools decided last night not to try to open their districts today. All Catholic elementary and secondary schools in Toledo are closed.

Among the people daring to try the roadways Saturday night were the appropriately named Jesse and Sharon Slusher of Springfield Township.

The Slushers were shopping for a heater at The Andersons in Maumee, one of the few stores that opened for business yesterday.

At the Powerhouse Gym on Central Avenue, snow didn’t stop some people from working on their New Year’s resolutions, or working off their excess holiday pounds.

“What else is there to do today?” asked Hal Reidl, 55, who was pumping iron there yesterday. “I was surprised they were open.”

The storm’s impact reached out onto the icy cover of the Maumee River. On Saturday night, Bob Hensley was working as the shipkeeper of the Wolverine, a freighter on the river, when the storm hit. The ship became coated with sheets of ice.

“I was out there hitting it with a ballpeen hammer to get the ice off,” Mr. Hensley said.

He said the ice on the freighter was three to four inches thick, and that the accumulated weight made the ship sink almost four feet lower than normal. Had it gone much farther, he said, water would have come into some of the portholes and possibly sunk the freighter.

Yesterday afternoon, Mr. Hensley was relaxing inside at Tony Packo’s Cafe in East Toledo. Manager Tom Luettke said the restaurant was doing only one-tenth of its normal business, but he decided to open because of the number of regular customers who lived within walking distance.

The owners of the Uncle John’s Pancake House on Secor Road advertised on radio and television that drivers of emergency vehicles or plows would get free pancakes and coffee. Co-owner Mary Baumann said about 25 workers took the restaurant up on its offer.

And while Uncle John’s stayed busy – serving the Brown University women’s basketball team, a wedding party of 25, and walk-ins from the dialysis center across the street – it did about half of their normal Sunday business, Ms. Baumann said.

At the BP gas station across Secor Road – one of the few stations in West Toledo to remain open for all of Saturday night – business was steady and strong yesterday.

“It’s been all coffee, gas, and the paper,” said clerk Julie Boone.

The roadways weren’t the only transportation area bothered by the storm.

Amtrak canceled operation Saturday and yesterday of the Pennsylvanian, which runs from Philadelphia to Chicago through Pittsburgh and Toledo. It ran only from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh both days. Amtrak also canceled the Wolverine, from Chicago to Detroit, yesterday. The cancelations were caused by weather-related equipment malfunctions.

At Toledo Express Airport, all five major airlines – American, Northwest, Continental, US Airways, and Comair – canceled flights. But airport director Ralph “Chip” Hannon said the cause was not at Toledo Express, which kept both of its runways operating. Instead, he blamed other airports, like Chicago and Detroit, which faced larger problems.

It took all of the airport’s crews and snow-cleaning equipment to maintain the runways in working condition, Mr. Hannon said.

TARTA maintained all of its regular routes over the weekend but had delays of up to an hour on Saturday and of five or 10 minutes yesterday.

When the storm hit, counties across the region declared snow emergencies, which limit travel in the affected areas. A Level One emergency is a warning of icy and snowy roads; Level Two means that motorists should travel only if necessary; Level Three means the roads are closed to all except emergency personnel.

Ohio counties that declared a Level Three emergency were: Lucas, Wood, Sandusky, and Seneca.

Lucas County lowered its emergency to a Level Two about 1 p.m. yesterday, and officials said it should be changed to a Level 1 early this morning.

Toledo city officials said garbage collection will continue as scheduled today. All city and county offices, except for Toledo Municipal Court, will be open today. All libraries in the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library system also plan to be open.

The storm inconvenienced more than 2,000 residents in Clyde, who lost power for more than three hours Saturday night when snow knocked out an electrical substation, a Toledo Edison spokesman said.

Toledo Edison also responded yesterday to several reports of power loss throughout the Toledo area, but all were resolved quickly, spokesman Richard Wilkins said.

Toledo area Metroparks were closed yesterday morning but began opening just before 1 p.m., spokesman Art Weber said.

Blade staff writers Mike Sigov, Ignazio Messina, Dee Drummond, Tony Bassett, and Jack Baessler contributed to this report.

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 4

This year, Toledo learned there is no such thing as a free lunch. If 1997 was about heady optimism and promises of revitalization and renewal, 1998 was the year residents realized that it arrives with a price tag.

And this year, the bill came due.

There were the major projects, such as the Valentine Theatre, which needed emergency infusions of cash to continue.

There was Toledo city government facing severe budget cuts and possibly layoffs at a time when the economy rarely has been better.

And, most notably to city taxpayers, there was the Jeep deal, soaring tens of millions of dollars over budget. Unexpected costs meant the city will have to come up with an extra $40 million for the project that will require the destruction of an old North Toledo neighborhood of 83 homes.

Projects considered critical to area leaders – such as a new ballpark for the Mud Hens downtown – got a thumbs-down from voters concerned about the cost.

The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority had to face voters after a year of bad publicity, including reports of lavish spending by executives on overseas trips.

Voters overwhelmingly rejected their levy, symbolically making the port pay for their past deeds.

One exception to the pay-up theme came on area roads. Northwest Ohio came out a winner when the federal government came through with $17 million to work out a possible route to replace U.S. 24 from Napoleon to Toledo. The federal money replaced local dollars previously committed to the project. The state also came through with $19 million for work on State Rt. 2, one of the region’s most notoriously dangerous roads.

Other winners in 1998:

* New leaders. The University of Toledo named controversial Vik Kapoor to lead the school into the millennium. Roger Berkowitz replaced David Steadman to become only the third director of the Toledo Museum of Art.

Toledo police now look to Chief Michael Navarre for leadership after Gerald Galvin became police chief in Albuquerque, N.M..

* Big business mergers. Mirroring the national trend, Toledo’s biggest employers got bigger in 1998, with the creation of nursing home giant HCR Manor Care and auto behemoth DaimlerChrysler AG.

* Downtown revitalization. COSI proved to be a smashing success in its first full year of business. The Hillcrest, the Commodore Perry, and the Edison Steam Plant are being turned into apartment buildings by developers hoping to match the success of the LaSalle Apartments. The Erie Street Market is growing to include an antiques market, and the Valentine Theatre is on schedule to open in October.

* The Perrysburg school board, which was finally able to persuade voters to pass a levy for school construction in the booming suburb. Voters had rejected them three times before but this time approved a 5.45-mill levy to pay for a new high school and expansion of Toth elementary school.

* Toledo civic pride, thanks to the city’s new status as an All-America City. After winning the title in June, Mayor Finkbeiner has been on a tireless quest to make sure everyone knows about it. He’s planning a first-ever, joint philanthropic project among All-America cities: a mission to Central America to help hurricane victims there.

wPastor Michael Pitts. If anyone can be called a “winner” after pleading no contest on two counts of criminal trespass, it’s Pastor Pitts, who fended off charges accusing him of exposing himself repeatedly to motorists around Toledo. The plea deal that led to the trespass charges (along with 14 days of house arrest and a $500 fine) meant he avoided the sex charges that could have troubled his 5,000-plus-member Cornerstone Church.

* The Defiance High School band. It will receive one of the highest of honors Friday: It will be one of 12 high school bands to march in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif.

* Home Depot. The giant retailer finally convinced voters that it should be allowed to build a store on Secor Road – after two trips to the plan commission, a few lawsuits, and a political campaign. But it did cost the company nearly $500,000 in campaign costs.

*General “Mad” Anthony Wayne. The site of the 1794 Battle of Fallen Timbers might be saved from development, as Mayor Finkbeiner switched sides and decided a military park would be preferable to an industrial park.The state this month allocated $2 million for the purchase of the battlefield property for preservation. Maumee has contributed $500,000.

* Toledo Public Schools and the Toledo Federation of Teachers. The two sides fought a contentious contract battle but were able to stop short of a strike that would have crippled the city’s schools.

* Paula Pennypacker. The two-time mayoral candidate successfully led a rebellion within the Lucas County Republicans, leading a grass-roots drive for precinct leaders in the May election. The result: a wider activist base for the party and the resignation of party chairman James Brennan. Ms. Pennypacker then moved herself and her makeup business to Arizona.

* Toledo city water, after city council’s own Watergate. After being publicly shamed, council members decided to remove the Culligan water bottle from their meeting room and stick to the city’s own tap water. It was the famed “appearance of impropriety” that cinched the switch: Council members didn’t want to be seen drinking anything other than “the Champagne of the Great Lakes.” Opined council clerk Michael Beazley: “It was a tempest in a water pot.”

* Wilson Sporting Goods. The Ada company was stunned to hear that Ohio State University would stop buying their footballs from a Buckeye supplier and start buying from Nike. But a little bad publicity for OSU and some public dismay in Ada caused the university to reverse field and keep Wilson.

And the losers:

* Toledo Express Airport. After setting a record for passengers in 1997, its two largest airlines, Delta and AirTran, skedaddled. Soon to follow was airport director Mark VanLoh, who left to take a job as commissioner of operations at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

* Carty Finkbeiner. The mayor pleaded guilty to failing to report a $10,000 payment he received as part of the sale of his Commodore Island condominium in 1994 to make way for the Owens Corning headquarters. The charge was a fourth-degree misdemeanor; he was fined $250.

* Republican congressional candidate Ed Emery, who had a truly bad day on Nov. 3. First, he was arrested for allegedly stalking a neighbor and resisting arrest. Then he ran into the electoral buzzsaw that is U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo), who won 81 per cent of the vote.

* Custodians at Ottawa Hills High School, who became ad hoc exterminators on May 22, when senior class pranksters released hundreds of cockroaches into their soon-to-be alma mater. The roaches, of course, were imported. Oh, and they smeared raw eggs, milk, and chocolate syrup all over the walls, apparently having done poorly during the cake-making segment of home economics class.

* Doris Matthews, the UT secretary who was suspended for five days without pay for freeing a trapped pigeon from her office. Her boss, Thomas Sharkey, then acting dean of the college of business administration, had specifically ordered that an animal removal expert not be hired to free the wayward pigeon. But Ms. Matthews did it anyway, paying the bird mover $25 from her own pocket.

* The homeless Lucas County Republicans. They were evicted from their old headquarters at 324 North Erie St. after not paying rent for more than two years. “Your periodic tenancy is no longer desired,” read the eviction notice. Perhaps even more galling: The Erie Street building was owned by former party chairman Tom Noe.

* Seneca County Sheriff H. Weldin Neff. First, in April, the sheriff pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of menacing by stalking a former dispatcher, Alice Dohner. Then in August the charges got more serious. He faces seven counts of tampering with a witness in a criminal case and three counts of theft in office. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges. His trial has been halted, and two employees testifying against him in the trial have been placed on paid leave to avoid any conflicts.

* Albert Apling’s red wooden barn in Ottawa County. In a few hours time, it went from budding star to scrap heap. First, Ohio’s bicentennial commission asked to paint an Ohio logo on the barn’s side as a way to promote the coming anniversary in 2003. On June 24, an artist was almost finished with the painting when it started to sprinkle. So he left. Ten minutes later, a storm blew the barn to bits.

An official from the bicentennial commission called the next day. “He said, `Do you think you can put the barn back up so we can repaint it?’ I said there was nothing left,” remembered Dolores Apling. “City slickers.”

* Dennis Roark and Neel Sheth, two men who bluffed their way through the medical establishment to play doctor. Roark led a charade through hospitals across the region, including a stint at Medical College of Ohio in which he assisted in 95 surgeries around the city. He was sentenced to six to 14 years in prison. Mr. Sheth got a year of community control after it was revealed the Flower Hospital resident physician’s last diploma was from a high school, not a medical school. He had been hired as a doctor in Deshler when the charges were made.

* The Federal Aviation Administration. The National Transportation Safety Board ruled that the FAA was the “probable cause” of the January, 1997, crash of Comair Flight 3272 near Ida. All 29 people aboard were killed. The NTSB blamed the FAA’s lack of safety standards regarding wing icing for the accident.

* Bert Hamrick, who didn’t seem to learn his lesson. In 1995, Hamrick was driving a stolen vehicle when he was chased by police. A police cruiser slammed into a car at Douglas Road and Berdan Avenue, killing 9-year-old Shannon Incorvaia. Hamrick was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, but the conviction was overturned a year ago.

On Nov. 12, Hamrick was again driving a stolen car in West Toledo when police tried to pull him over. He again led them on a chase, this time through West and North Toledo, before heading into Michigan. During the chase, authorities said, a female passenger in the car handed him cans of beer to drink.

This time, the 30-minute chase ended in his arrest, not tragedy. Hamrick is awaiting trial.

* Buckeye Egg Farm. The giant egg producer, known for its huge factories with millions of chickens, lost a key battle when the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency decided not to issue a permit to allow it to expand. Local opponents in the Mount Victory area say the huge facilities pumps tons of pollution into the environment.

* Going to the dogs. It was a bad year for animal cruelty cases. Brenda Studer of New Washington was convicted in Seneca County for abusing more than 150 dogs and cats.

In Fulton County, Mary Barker was sentenced to 30 days in jail for violating her probation, which requires her not to sell dogs. She sold one named Blosser to a deputy dog warden. She previously had been convicted on animal cruelty charges in 1997.

And Toledoan Opal Covey, still upset over the seizure of nearly 500 birds authorities said she was mistreating, filed suit against Judge Denise Dartt and others claiming a conspiracy against her. Her claim in the suit: $86 million in damages.

In what may have been the biggest local news story of the year, a North Toledo man went on a killing rampage the day before Valentine’s Day.

Joseph Chappell, who had a lengthy criminal rec ord, lashed out against a co-worker he had been harassing, Vivian Morris. Just hours after she filed a formal police complaint against him, Chappell went to her home and stabbed her to death. He also stabbed her two children, but they survived.

But he wasn’t done. Chappell car jacked a van, then fired shots at the ambulance carrying Ms. Morris, hitting a firefighter in the chest. He saw 21-year-old Brandy Williams in front of her home on Barrows Street and demanded her truck; when she refused, Chappell shot and killed her as she tried to run inside the house.

Then came a chase across West Toledo, ending when Chappell lost control of the stolen van at one of Toledo’s busiest intersections, Monroe Street and Secor Road. He was gunned down by three police officers as he pointed his shotgun at them.

Even Joseph Chappell’s death didn’t end this saga. On April 3, his brother Andrew Chappell was arrested for harassing Ms. Morris’s best friend. “All Chappells are armed,” he warned.

He got six months in jail.

Thisyear seemed to have more than its fair share of tragedy, with every week seemingly bringing some new story of horror:

* Seven Hillsdale County residents were killed when a fireworks factory exploded in Osseo, Mich., on Dec. 11. Federal investigators say they will probably never learn the cause.

* A Michigan college student, Delaina Hodgson, was killed on Oct. 16 when a tractor-trailer crushed her car from behind on I-280 northbound near the Front Street exit. Ms. Hodgson was stopped because of construction on the Craig Memorial Bridge across the Maumee River. Her death even be came an issue in the governor’s race, as both major candidates pledged a new bridge to replace the problem-riddled toll bridge.

* On Feb. 10, a tractor-trailer failed to slow down for stopped traffic and slammed into seven vehicles on I-75 near Lima. Four were killed and five injured.

* Former Toledoan Peggy Carr was carjacked while running errands on April 22 in Wilmington, N.C., by two armed robbers who wanted to use her Geo Tracker as a getaway vehicle. They killed her and dumped her body in a neighboring county. Her remains were not discovered until November.

* Children were increasingly a target of violence in Toledo. Incidents like the killing of 13-year-old Maurice Purifie and the shooting death of 10-year-old Deontre Hicks led to public outrage.

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 13

They don’t make chicken paprikas in south Louisiana, but you wouldn’t know it from the sound coming from East Toledo yesterday afternoon.

Six men from Szeged, Hungary, assembled at the Birmingham Ethnic Festival yesterday to play the music Louis Armstrong helped start decades ago in New Orleans.

The Molnar Dixieland Hungarian Jazz Band was an odd mix – the most authentic Hungarian performers at a Hungarian festival, playing a uniquely American sound.

“The music Louis Armstrong was playing in the 1930s is close to Hungarian music,” said bandleader and clarinetist Gyula Molnar, through an interpreter.

Their appearance at the annual festival fits snugly in the bizarre Toledo tradition of intermingling New Orleans-style Dixieland and Hungarians. For decades, the Cakewalkin’ Jass Band has been the house act at Tony Packo’s, perhaps America’s most prominent Hungarian hot spot.

“Dixieland matches well with the upbeat, happy Hungarian music,” said Martin Nagy, the executive director of the Lake Erie West Arts Council, which helped bring the band to Toledo.

And at yesterday’s Birmingham Ethnic Festival – which, with its Chinese food and temporary tattoos, has lost some of its Hungarian feel in recent years – the Molnars were one of the few authentic touches of the old country.

“A lot of people have asked them, `Are you really Hungarian?”‘ said Elizabeth Balint, a Toledo volunteer who has been helping the band.

The Arts Council, with Toledo Sister Cities International, helped to bring the Molnars from Szeged, Toledo’s sister city in Hungary. They’ve been in the area for the last two weeks, playing shows around northwest Ohio and staying in a home in the Birmingham neighborhood.

Back in Hungary or on their European tours, the band usually plays strictly Dixieland jazz, “with paprika or a little spice,” Mr. Molnar said. But when they came to America, they decided to play more Hungarian music to appeal to a crowd that rarely sees it.

The tour may have begun the career of a new star, handsome 26-year-old trombonist Attila Almasi. At yesterday’s concert, he played some show-stopping licks with his feet, and he has attracted a coterie of young female admirers.

“After one show, there was a plate of Hungarian apple strudel waiting for him,” Ms. Balint said. “The young girls are following him.” The shy Mr. Almasi had no comment.

All except Mr. Almasi view the band as a second job; their other positions range from librarian to high school teacher. And at least one member’s professional experience has come in handy on their American trip.

When the band was playing at Catawba Island a few days ago, members spied a young girl watching the performance through a gusher of tears. They realized she had chipped her tooth after she and a friend were playing around with a flashlight.

Pianist-dentist Lajos Csanadi came to the rescue – with medical advice, and what proved to be the best medicine of all.

“He sat her down on his lap and played for her,” Ms. Balint said. “That worked well.”

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page G1

When you think of Woody Guthrie, you think in black and white.

You think of dust bowls and desperation, of socialism and slow train rides. His image – earnest folkie troubadour, roaming America from sea to shining sea – is as set in stone as the faces in Mount Rushmore.

So how does it change things to know he thought about flying saucers? That he fantasized about Ingrid Bergman? That he wrote songs he called “supersonic boogies?”

How does it change the image of a legend to learn that he was a man, not an icon?

Woody Guthrie, dead three decades, is being reborn, and the new Woody is far from the dour left-winger who inspired the folk movement of the 1960s. Instead, he’s a little bit silly, and a lot more human.

“He’s not just a serious folk singer,” says Nora Guthrie, Woody’s daughter and fighter for his image, the person singly most responsible for the man’s belated comeback.

Nora Guthrie’s most potent weapon in her battles sits on West 57th Street in New York City. There, she runs the Woody Guthrie Archive, and one of the most astonishing collections of untapped art American music has ever seen: 3,000 Woody Guthrie songs never recorded, some never read by anyone.

And now, she’s letting other artists get their hands on those songs to convince the world that her father’s songs aren’t stuck in the 1930s, or trapped in the purist constraints of folk music. They’re as up-to-date as you want them to be.

“You wanna kill a song? Tell someone they have to play it a certain way, that’s how,” Nora Guthrie says.

Woody Guthrie’s life was an unending string of tragedies. As a child in Okemah, Okla., his sister was burned up in a fire, his father went broke, and his mother was committed to a mental hospital.

But he did manage to write beautiful, brilliant songs about the poor and downtrodden, stirring songs about America’s beauty and the need for a classless society. He was the first self-appointed Voice of the Common Man, The Grapes of Wrath with a six-string, leavened with his Okie wit.

(Schoolchildren will know him best as the man who wrote the song they sing after the Pledge of Allegiance, “This Land Is Your Land.” That it is sung reverently as a patriotic hymn is ironic, considering that Woody was branded a Communist throughout the McCarthy era, and was certainly a socialist.(His famous quote on the topic: “I’m not a Communist, but I’ve been in the red all my life.”)

Music historians disagree, as they always do, but Woody Guthrie has been called everything from the first folk singer to the first singer-songwriter. And what is unquestionable is that he had an enormous influence on rock and roll, mostly through the conduit of Bob Dylan, who idolized him.

A lot of Woody’s songs had what the wags would call a “message,” pushing for things like unionization or equality. But to limit your view of him to those message songs – railing against capitalism or racism or poverty – is to miss a whole other side to his music.

Find, for example, the “message” in this:

Hoodoo voodoo, seven twenty one two

Haystacka hostacka A B C

High poker, low joker, ninety nine a zero

Sidewalk, streetcar, dance a goofy dance

No need to summon up your inner English major to analyze those lines: It’s a song Woody wrote for his children – and there’s nary a complaint about fascists to be found.

“He wrote some incredible stuff, but because of illness and war and other things that stopped him, we’re stuck in time with him as an artist,” Nora says. “Let’s just say the truth, that he wrote songs about Joe DiMaggio and Ingrid Bergman and not just Dust Bowl stuff.”

“Hoodoo Voodoo” was never recorded in Woody’s lifetime. It’s one of the thousands of lyrics – scrawled on scraps of paper, in notebooks, or in diaries – that rests in the Guthrie Archive.

The reason those songs never got played is that Woody was too sick. In 1952, after his behavior had become more and more erratic, he was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, a debilitating nerve disorder that took his body and his voice. He stayed in a mental ward and a hospital bed until his death in 1967.

But he didn’t stop writing until near the very end, and those songs, thousands of them, are what make up the archives.

After Woody’s death, all his papers were boxed and toted from place to place around New York City by his wife, who would also answer fan mail out of a Manhattan office. Eventually, responsibility passed to Nora. (Woody has two other living children, including folk singer Arlo Guthrie.)

Nora had been busy raising a family of her own, after working as a dancer and choreographer. When her youngest was old enough, Nora started coming into the office to help out, stuffing envelopes and licking stamps.

“It just escalated,” she says. “The material kept nudging me. I started going through all the file cabinets and said, Oh, this is cool. My creative mind just got tapped.”

She decided that her father’s material was too important not to preserve. She hired an archivist to protect and organize all the lyrics, as well as the thousands of other writings, artwork, and belongings in the archives. Now, to examine the lyrics, scholars put on white gloves and handle with care.

And, just as important, she decided that her father’s material was too important not to share. Nora wanted to get her father’s work into the public eye, to convince the world it knew only part of him.

The first project was an ani mated children’s video based on “This Land Is Your Land,” modeled in part after the videos Nora’s kids had watched. Then came a record of Woody songs sung by his family, based on a long-lost songbook from the 1940s. That record earned a Grammy nomination.

After her initial successes, Nora started to think about how best to get attention for Woody’s music. “I thought, we should be producing stuff and getting this stuff out, instead of waiting for people to come to us.”

That’s when she decided she would approach British protest singer and punk-folkie Billy Bragg, for what has become the centerpiece of the Woody revival.

Nora had long been a fan of Bragg, the brash cockney who in the 1980s scrawled “This guitar says sorry” on the face of his guitar to emulate Guthrie, who famously wrote, “This machine kills fascists” on the face of his.

She proposed that Bragg have a look at the archives’ lyrical stash, choose what he liked, and make an album.

“I sent him a little bag full of stuff, and said, It’s stuff like this,” Nora remembers. “He said, I’ll be right over.”

Bragg brought in the American roots-pop band Wilco to help him on the album. Woody left no musical notation for any of the lyrics, so Bragg and Wilco songwriters Jeff Tweedy and Jay Bennett had to construct a tune for each song.

The result, an album called “Mermaid Avenue” after the Coney Island street the Guthries lived on in the 1950s, is extraordinary. Bragg and Wilco reinvent Woody’s old songs and make them their own – which is precisely what Nora Guthrie wanted.

“Some of them sound like Billy’s songs, and some of them sound like Jeff’s,” Nora says. “I told them, Make believe some guy next door brought over some lyrics and said, Here, play with this. I didn’t want them to be inhibited because they’re Woody Guthrie songs.”

The music ranges from rollicking drinking songs to acoustic ballads and does just what Nora wanted – that Woody Guthrie was more than just a Dust Bowl singer.

There are joyous songs about a late-night carousing with Walt Whitman’s niece, the silly rhymes of “Hoodoo Voodoo,” and a fantasy about making love to Ingrid Bergman on a volcano. There are also songs on more traditional Guthrie topics, like the great union song “I Guess I Planted” and the political irony of “Christ For President.” But folk purists looking for Pete Seeger-style strumming might be disappointed by the variety.

“Mermaid Avenue” has gotten universally positive reviews, and will no doubt make many critics’ year-end top 10 lists. It has also made Woody Guthrie, never fashionable or famous during his playing days, hot.

Bragg and Wilco recorded about 40 songs for “Mermaid Avenue,” and the rest could be released on a second album next year. (That one would likely include “My Flying Saucer,” Woody’s 1950 lyric he wanted to be played as a “supersonic boogie.”) And alt-folkie Ani DiFranco’s Righteous Babe label will release a live album of a Woody tribute concert held at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Work has just been completed on a Smithsonian Institute touring exhibit on Woody’s life; it will go around the country in late 1999 or early 2000. Several children’s books are in the works, including one based on “This Land Is Your Land.”

Otherwise, Nora is busy doling out lyrics to the people she thinks they work for, like some ersatz Santa. “I’ll just read a lyric and say, `This is a Lou Reed song,’ or `This is a Dylan song,’ or `This is a heavy metal song or a rap tune’,” she says.

Her current project: working with klezmer superstars The Klezmatics to release an album of Woody’s Jewish songs. “The Klezmatics aren’t going to come to me and say, `Hey, got any Jewish songs?”‘ she laughs. “So I’ve got to go to them.”

Eventually Nora will open up the lyric archives to anyone from Joan Baez to the Jungle Brothers. Until then, though, she wants to keep some control of the lenses through which her father’s work is viewed.

It’s an odd position for Nora to be in, essentially serving as the agent and publicist of a man dead for 31 years. But she said she is having the time of her life getting her father’s work out.

“We just laugh and say Woody’s in charge of this,” she says. “I just answer the phone.”

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 12

If you want to see a tractor pull, why not just go to your nearest farm and wait? Something will get pulled eventually.

But if patience is not among your virtues, you would have done well to attend the Lucas County Fair yesterday afternoon. Dozens of tractors – some looking straight off the farm, others with racing stripes and gaudy engines – plodded up and down dirt tracks, pulling thousands of pounds of weighted sleds to prove their power.

And while the fans seemed to focus on the largest rigs, a tractor-pull purist might find more interest in a small Northwest Ohio group called the Round Bottom Garden Tractor Pullers.

That’s because the Round Bottomers, formed in March, don’t spend tens of thousands of dollars turning their tractors into finely tuned, 20-foot-tall racing machines. They take your basic garden tractor – the kind often used by rural homeowners – and bring it to the fair.

“It feels like you’re on the big ones,” said puller Dale Sprow of Napoleon.

Tom Bortz, 31, of Holgate, participated in his first tractor-pull at 13 but hadn’t competed in years. Last year, when a group of friends were thinking about starting a new pulling club aimed at smaller tractors, he decided to try it.

“I thought it would be fun to do it again,” he said.

The appeal for Mr. Bortz?

Buying a small tractor is cheaper than fixing up a big one. For $1,200, you can compete. It might take 10 times as much to get into the big-rig game.

Certainly the attraction isn’t prize money. Awards for the garden tractor-pulls are $7 to $19.

The pullers’ common quest is the “full pull,” which yesterday meant dragging a weight ranging from 800 to 1,200 pounds 125 feet. The weights are attached to the tractors’ rear ends, and the drivers push their engines as far as they will go.

There are rules, of course.

Drivers must have a driver’s license or wear a helmet. That loophole allows 13-year-old Ron Patton, Jr., to take part.

Describing his technique, Ron said, “I pretend I’m in a car.”

The seventh grader from Defiance already is considered a veteran puller; yesterday was his fourth competition.

Recalling his first ride, Ron said, “I was afraid it was going to tip over.”


“It’s just fun. [And] it’s unique. Nobody else does it.”

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 25

“There’s not a real good medical plan for a jazz musician.”

So says Joan Russell, co-owner of Murphy’s Place, the downtown jazz club. But jazz has a long tradition of health care that doesn’t include HMOs or Medicare: the benefit jam for someone who is ailing. (Think Live Aid, only for one guy.)

One of the finest examples of the form will be on display Sunday, when an all-star group of musicians gathers at Murphy’s for a seven-hour jam session to benefit legendary Toledo pianist Claude Black.

Black, a youthful 65, had prostate surgery on June 16 and, while he’s recovering nicely, he still has a lot of bills to pay. Donations will be taken at the door.

More than 40 musicians are expected from Toledo, Detroit, and New York. They will all be coming to pay tribute to Black, a world-renowned, world-class piano player who has banged the ivories alongside such greats as Dizzy Gillespie, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Hartman, and Kenny Burrell.

“I still remember my first job, in 1949, with Billie Holiday,” said Black, who was working in Detroit as a teenager at the time. “She had left her piano player in New York, so I sat in.

“I wasn’t so good at the time,” he admits. “I was just lucky. I was shook up, oh my God!”

Black’s steady gig for the last few years has been at Murphy’s, the site of Sunday’s benefit, playing in the house band with bassist Clifford Murphy and drummer Sean Dobbins. He’s been busy recuperating, but he expects he’ll be able to sit in for a song or two Sunday.

Toledo’s Jimmy Cook and Jim Gottron will handle the show’s musical arrangements – not an easy task, considering the number of musicians and the length of the show.

Under doctor’s orders, Black will continue to rest and relax for another couple of months. But after that, he’ll start popping in at Murphy’s again to play. He’s also hoping to spend some time speaking to and playing for children in Toledo schools.

Black is the most consistent player she’s ever worked with, Russell said. “Other players, if they play six nights a week, they might have off nights. Not Claude.”

More than 40 jazz musicians will play from 3 to 10 p.m. Sunday at Murphy’s Place, 151 Water St. Donations will be taken at the door. Information: Call 241-7732.

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 13

Aloysius “Ollie” Szewczykowski, 87, a longtime leatherworker who loved playing and watching baseball, died Saturday at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center. He was 87.

The cause of death was liver disease, family members said.

Mr. Szewczykowski was born and raised in Toledo’s old Polish neighborhood on the south side and left school early to work and help his family financially.

He worked at a series of jobs before being hired at the Textile Leather Co., where he worked for 45 years until his retirement in 1975. For most of that time, he was responsible for mixing leather dyes, his daughter Joanne said.

Throughout his life, Mr. Szewczykowski loved baseball, she said. He played for many years in the Old Timers Association, pitching in games against other local club teams.

And when he grew older, a lifelong devotion to the Detroit Tigers grew even more intense, as he would spend many nights watching their games on television.

“After he retired, he played a lot of solitaire and watched a lot of Tigers’ games,” his daughter said.

He loved to bowl, she said, and spent many days fishing on the Maumee River or Lake Erie with his wife, going after perch.

The couple continued fishing together until they were well into their 60s, she said.

Mr. Szewczykowski loved spending time with his children, grandchildren, and great-grand children, and had a strict role in the family household.

“He was always the one who sat us down and made us do our homework,” his daughter said. “Mom took care of the house, and he took care of the homework.”

Surviving are his wife, Virginia Mary Szewczykowski; a son, Gene Szewczykowski; two daughters, Bernadine Overly and Joanne Szewczykowski; a brother, Ted Szewczykowski; a sister, Cecelia Gzik; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Arrangements are being handled by Sujkowski and Son Funeral Home, 3838 Airport Hwy., where the body will be from 2 to 9 p.m. tomorrow. Services will be held there Wednesday, followed by a Mass at Regina Coeli Church. The time of the service and Mass are pending.