Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

famous-endings

Toland-Herzig Funeral Home in Dover features Famous Endings Museum.

What better place to have a Famous Endings Museum than a funeral home. In Dover at 803 N. Wooster Avenue, the Toland-Herzig Funeral Home has an outstanding display of funeral memorabilia from people who have made a difference in the world.

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The entrance to Famous Endings gives a glimpse of celebrities.

The staff hopes that their presentation will perhaps bring back memories, or even a smile to your face, as you see some of those people who had a great influence on our lives.

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This cafe setting provides a place for visitors to sit and listen to John’s stories.

Here you will find the largest privately owned collection of funeral memorabilia in the world. Everything from funeral programs, photos, newspaper clippings, and prayer cards can be viewed. Most of the memorabilia is displayed in one large room, but it has spread out to the hallways and other small rooms throughout the funeral home.

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An excellent video by John Herzig helps explain his collection.

This is a rather recent collection started by John Herzig back in 1996. Up to that time, he had an autograph collection, but that was soon to change when he sent a request for the autographed picture of the late Joe Lewis, the boxer.

When he received the package in the mail, there was more than what he asked for. It included not only a picture, but also the program of the funeral ceremony. That was the beginning of his new hobby, which has evolved to over  2,000 pieces of funeral memorabilia on display today.

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NASA exhibit features Ohio astronauts with Judith Resnik highlighted.

Many funerals they actually attended under special circumstances. When John heard of the public funeral of Jack Kevorkian in Michigan, he suggested to his wife, Joyce, that perhaps it would be a nice weekend for a trip to Michigan. The next day after arrival, he told her they were going to the White Chapel Mausoleum for funeral services at 9:30. Her response was, “Have you lost your mind?”

His wife has patiently endured his many attempts to find funeral programs and memorabilia. Learn more about her tolerance as you hear about the 50th birthday trip to New York City that he promised her, or their stop at a celebrity filled cemetery in L.A. on the way back from a cruise. Joyce won’t soon forget these special trips.

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The family attended the funeral of John Glenn and display memorabilia.

The trips to funerals are usually family affairs. Often Joyce accompanies him but recently his son, Troy, went with his dad to a couple memorable memorial services for John Glenn and Muhammad Ali. Their programs are already in place at the museum.

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John and Joyce’s son, Troy, especially enjoys the sports heroes.

John Herzig enjoys hearing stories about people who have changed the world in some way. Those are the kind of people he has honored in his Famous Endings Museum. “Each person has a story to share.”

Among his favorites are people who helped others. They weren’t big Hollywood or TV stars, but people who made a difference… and he has their funeral programs! Millard Fuller,  a self-made millionaire at the age of twenty-nine, is a prime example. Fuller gave all his money away to start Habitat for Humanity.

william-greatbatch

This large photo of William Greatbatch, inventor of the pacemaker, is surrounded by memorabilia of other inventors.

The collector placed high importance on William Greatbatch, who made the cardiac pacemaker, and Eugene Polley, inventor of the TV remote control and often labeled “Father of the Couch Potato”. This museum perhaps could be called the Influential Hall of Fame.

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Steve Jobs is showcased in their entrepreneur display.

Famous Endings Museum has special admiration for Frank Inn and his love of animals. He trained popular animals such as Arnold the pig, Lassie and Benji, who he saved from a shelter. Frank’s daughter recalls, “He could train animals to do things that most people didn’t believe.” Some of those favorite animals were cremated and buried with Inn.

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Invented by Eugene Polley, the first remote, Flash-matic Tuning, definitely changed our lives.

Some of visitors’ favorite exhibits are memorabilia from people who made us smile in the past, such as Captain Kangaroo and Mister Rogers. Comedian Leslie Neilson carried his sense of humor to his funeral. The packages of Kleenex he prepared for his funeral are on display there. They carried the inscription: “Stop crying. This is supposed to be a fun night. Love and laughs, Leslie.”

 

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This lantern from Lincoln’s funeral carriage has become one of John’s favorite treasures.

Several times a year, John schedules a “Night at the Museum” where he features a special person or group of people. Visit their Facebook page or website for details. The museum is free and open for visitation Monday – Friday from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm. It’s one of those places you have to see to believe and appreciate.

famous-endings-ripleys

Ripley’s Believe It or Not featured Herzig’s Famous Endings Museum.

Famous Endings Museum has been featured on Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and is a frequent stop for tour coaches…especially Mystery Tours! This museum makes us look at death differently. As Randy Pausch wrote about funerals, “You can either be an Eeyore or a Tigger.” At Famous Endings Museum, they honor the contributions and memories,  as they celebrate the lives of famous people.

Visit Famous Endings Museum in Dover just off I-77 at Exit 83. Take Ohio 211 east/ Tuscarawas Avenue. Turn left on Slingluff Avenue and then right on Wooster Ave. The museum is on the left side of the street.

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bobbie-polar-bears

Sometimes even polar bears just want to have fun.

Not everyone would consider sleeping in a tent on the ice the perfect vacation, but Bobbie Henderson thought it a great adventure. Over the past few years, she has made not one, but two trips to the far, far north just to get up close and personal with polar bears.

While she’s had a long-time passion for animals, one day while teaching an eighth grade class, they watched a film about polar bears. At the end of the film, it told about possible tours on the tundra where you could see polar bears just outside your window. Bobbie was hooked.

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Three polar bears relax in the setting sun on Hudson Bay.

Her first polar bear expedition headed to Churchill on Hudson Bay in the far north of Manitoba, Canada. Northern style shops lined the streets of this small town. Sirens went off to alert people when a polar bear came to visit. They even had a polar bear jail, where they placed tranquilized bears until they could be taken back to the wilds by helicopter.

At Churchill, a group of 32 boarded Tundra Buggies set high off the ground to take them exploring. Once they reached camp, the group settled in for a week of visiting polar bears.

Headquarters consisted of a stationary area with seven modular sections. Camp here was spartan, but comfortable…with excellent food. Showers were limited to two and a half minutes as all water had to be heated, while outhouses stood on the edge of camp. Overall, a relaxed atmosphere.

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The highlight of the trip for Bobbie was when this polar bear stuck its nose in the tundra buggy window right beside her.

Half the group would go polar bear watching in the morning, while the other half went in the afternoon. On one of these trips, windows were left down to take better pictures. The thrill of the trip for Bobbie was when one polar bear, 10′ tall, actually stuck its nose in the window right where she sat. She could have reached out and touched him…but took a picture instead.

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Forty polar bears were sighted on her first expedition.

One strict rule here states: “Don’t even think about feeding the bears.” Feeding was discouraged as it would make the bears too familiar with humans, perhaps causing both of them problems. If anyone did feed a bear, they were taken from camp in a helicopter at their expense. Bears find their own food and enjoy a steady diet of seals. They can eat a hundred pounds of blubber in a single sitting.

On that first expedition, Bobbie saw 40 polar bears in their natural environment. There’s a reason that Manitoba is called “The Polar Bear Capital of the World”.

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Their yellow tents were the only sign of civilization in this Arctic wilderness.

Her second polar bear adventure began in Nunavut near Pond Inlet on the northern tip of Baffin Island. Now she was 700 K north of the Arctic Circle! This small town said their biggest problems were drugs, family abuse, and alcohol. They did have a couple television sets and computers, which broadcast in their native Inuktitut language.

Snow machines pulled them to camp this time on 18′ komitak sleds…three people to a sled. The ride took eight bumpy hours. Camp consisted of bright yellow tents on the ice with an insulated pad underneath and a very warm sleeping bag. Native Eskimos served as guides and someone stood guard around the clock to make certain no bears invaded the camp.

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Bobbie, their guide Dave and Jenny from Australia listen through hydrophones to the world beneath the ice.

The reflection of the midnight sun off the ice gave members the worst sunburns on their faces that they could imagine. They would reach outside their tents at night to get ice to cool off their burning face.

Perhaps it was due to the weather, but on this trip they only saw four polar bears. They first faced blizzard conditions but by the end of the week, it started to rain, so ice was melting in spots especially along the crevices. Now the komitak sleds had to jump the crevices making for a very rough and wet ride back to town.

Living on the frozen ocean, they explored ancient ruins of the Thule people, followed tracks of polar bears in the snow, built snowmen and created snow angels. Each day provided another unique adventure, which made this magical place a once in a lifetime experience.

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Ms Henderson brought back her experiences and used them in the classroom.

Upon her return, Bobbie shared her Arctic adventures in her Florida classroom. She used the trip to teach spelling, vocabulary, map skills and wildlife conservation. Bringing personal experiences to the classroom always enhances learning. Now she enjoys sharing her experiences as a substitute teacher here in southeastern Ohio.

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Her house is overflowing with polar bear memorabilia.

While Bobbie was glad she did both trips, she wants to return to Churchill again because she saw more bears there, and camping was a little more relaxing. Since she likes cold weather, Greenland, the North Pole, and Arctic regions are places she would enjoy visiting.

bobbie

Bobbie volunteers at Dickens Victorian Village, where she dresses as a lovely Victorian lady.

Animals like Bobbie. At her home near Cambridge, she keeps several dogs, cats, and rare macaws. Deer hang out at her back deck. But if you happen to see a polar bear there, it’s just Bobbie in her polar bear costume.

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Sometimes she enjoys dressing as a polar bear.

conns-trailer

Conn’s transport their chips to warehouses in Newark and Columbus.

Everyone has a favorite food. Mine just happens to be potato chips. A road trip to Conn’s Potato Chip Company in Zanesville brightened my day since Conn’s has always been my favorite chip.

Back in 1935, Mrs. Ida Conn perfected the potato chip. She used the best potatoes, pure vegetable shortening and salt to create this taste treat which has delighted customers for over 80 years.

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The U.S. flag proudly flies at the entrance of Conn’s Potato Chip Company.

Those first potato chips were made in her garage and delivered in a market basket to neighbors by Ida herself. While selling her chips on Putnam Avenue, Ida became acquainted with Dick Downey, who with Dave McGee, purchased the Conn Potato Chip Company from Ida in the 1940s.

Dick became a favorite customer of mine in a local downtown business about twenty years ago. Of course, he knew my love for potato chips and one day asked what my favorites might be.

Sometimes there are those special chips with a bubble in them. Those are my favorites.

A few days later, Dick brought an entire bag of potato chips with bubbles for my enjoyment. What a kind gentleman.

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Mike has been delivering Conn’s locally for ten years.

But Dick was very strict about the way his employees handled bags of chips. He realized that few like crumbled potato chips so he told them to handle a bag of potato chips like you were holding a baby. After all, they were his babies.

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Tammy, our guide, stands before crates of potatoes that will all be used in one day.

When visiting the plant, the first thing you’ll notice is that gentle aroma of potato chips. Tammy, our guide, said her daughter told her, “Mom, you smell like a french fry.” The fragrance hangs in the air.

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Employees enjoy their jobs as they box chips for shipment.

This was a happy workplace and everyone had smiles and waves as we visited the manufacturing facility where all they make is potato chips. It didn’t seem to matter what their job was, these pleasant employees enjoyed it from cutting, sorting, bagging to shrink-wrapping stacks of boxes. Or perhaps they were smiling because of the mandatory hairnets we were wearing.

Here in Zanesville is the only place that Conn’s potato chips are made. They do have warehouses in Newark and Columbus.

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After potatoes are washed and skinned, they head through the potato slicer.

Every week approximately 100,000 pounds of potatoes are brought into the factory to be made into fresh chips. Now these aren’t ordinary potatoes you might buy in the store. They are ‘chipping’ potatoes, a special variety that has less starch and sugar.

First, they are washed with high pressure to remove all dirt. After that the skin is brushed off with many mechanical brushes. Everything is done by machine with employee supervision at each process.

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Layer of sliced potatoes heads to the fryer on a conveyor belt.

The potato cutter then slices the potatoes into potato chip size. Blades are changed once a week to make wavy potato chips, the most popular party chip for dips. Sometimes when the chips fly out of the cutter, it looks like it’s raining potato chips.

They are then sent through the deep fat fryer on a conveyor belt. Recently, some noticed a slight change in the taste, as Conn’s was forced to remove the hydrogenated fat from the soybean oil that is used. This change is due to a recent federal regulation to improve our health.

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Fresh Conn’s Potato Chips leave the fryer to be sprayed with salt.

At the other end, a very find salt is sprayed on, so it’s easily absorbed by the warm chips. Now an inspector watches carefully for chips that are too well done or imperfect and removes them before they fall into buckets that look like seats on a ferris wheel to be sent to the bagging room.

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In the packing room, overhead tumblers mix the flavors before bags are filled below.

Here the chips are directed to various tumblers for packing. This is where the flavors are added. Green Onion, their most popular flavor, BBQ and Salt and Vinegar were being packed while watching. They bag in various sizes from 1 oz. to 1 pound.

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This gentleman brought in his Conn’s Anniversary tin for an economical refill.

If you want an 80th Anniversary Tin filled, they will fill it right off the conveyor belt for $5. That’s quite a savings for two and a half pounds of potato chips. Refills are only $3. If you travel that direction, and you love potato chips, it would pay to buy a tin.

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President Montie works at his desk with a picture above of his newborn grandson already pictured with a Conn’s tin.

Current owners, Montie Hunter and the George brothers – Tom and Jon, invested in Conn’s future by moving to a 100,000 square foot facility on Richards Road in Zanesville. Their new state of the art equipment still provides the same quality chips that have been favorites for generations.

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Co-owner, Jon, enjoyed sharing the Conn’s story, while his brother, Tom, was taste testing.

Montie worked as a route salesman for Dick so was very familiar with Conn’s. They had to make two promises when they purchased the company. 1) The name could not be changed. 2) Keep all the employees.

Tours of the factory are frequent for schools, seniors and even tour buses. Everyone comes away with the chance to have a few hot chips right off the conveyor belt. Good potato chips taste like Conn’s.

Conn’s Potato Chips is located in Kemper Court at the east side of Zanesville. Take Richard Road off Route 40 and about two miles back on the right hand side you will find Kemper Court and Conn’s Potato Chips. Take a tour sometime!

philip-owen

His walking sticks have been displayed at various festivals in our area. Here, Philip holds one of his favorites.

A soft-spoken gentleman exhibits a surprising hidden talent – taking pieces of wood, and turning them into beautiful canes and walking sticks with intricate designs.

Philip Owen made his first walking stick as a young boy of seven or eight years old in Rawlinsville, PA. Illness dominated his childhood, and Philip will admit, “I was spoiled rotten.” Often when walking to check on the cows, he would pick up a stick and begin carving it.

As a youngster, Philip had tuberculosis and was in a sanitarium for eleven months one time, and twenty-two months the next. During that last visit in 1946, Philip said he was “a streptomycin guinea pig”. They administered one hundred forty-four shots of streptomycin to Philip and one other young man. Both were cured. With this new discovery, it wasn’t long before the sanitarium was closed.

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His display of walking sticks and canes consists of some that he made and some he purchased from all over the world.

During his lifetime he has made, given away, traded or sold many walking sticks and canes. At this time, he is working on numbers 1105 and 1106 out of American chestnut, a rare wood with a beautiful grain. These creations have been shipped all over the world.

Many kinds of wood make up these walking sticks and canes. One of his favorite designs was free-lanced on PA rosebud. Since the canes and sticks must be strong as well as beautiful, he favors using maple, walnut and cherry wood. It might surprise you to learn that the structure of the sticks depends on whether an individual prefers using their right or left hand.

Hopalong Cassidy Cane

Festival attender checks out a Hopalong Cassidy Cane.

One thing of which he should be extremely proud is the fact that he has carved canes for five US Presidents – from Richard Nixon to George Bush. Even more interesting, he has received thank-you notes from all of them including their signatures. Philip hopes that his grandson will someday appreciate having those special treasures.

In 1988, Philip Owen’s nephew, Mike Huber, had a 40th birthday. Philip made a cane for him as a joke since Mike was now “going down hill”. Along with the birthday greetings, Philip said, “You are hereby appointed President of ANCC.” Those letters stood for American National Cane Collectors, which was later changed to the American National Cane Club to include makers, not just collectors. Philip volunteered to be the Secretary/Treasurer so they had two members. This organization’s newsletter became known as “The Twisted Stick.”

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My Gypsy Walking Stick leans against a special basket of flowers.

Two years ago, Philip carved a right-handed walking stick for this gypsy. He included some of my favorite things on the stick – bears. Many knots were cleverly turned into bear heads. On each stick, Philip puts his signature – a heart containing his initials and a cross in the center with John 3:16 under the heart. Above the heart is the number of the cane.

My walking stick almost always stays in the trunk of my car to be used when walking over rough territory, or even in the snow. Gypsy Bev is written around the top so it’s not bound to get mixed up with someone else’s.

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This bow tie quilt consists of 169 bow ties. Philip seems to make use of whatever he receives.

Family is very important to Philip, as he grew up in a loving family of twelve children. He was number eleven, his twin brother number twelve. His love of another hobby, quilting, began with his parents. His father cut out the squares for each of the twelve children to have “Grandmother’s Flower Garden”, then his mother sewed them together. Families are like quilts – pieced together and stitched with love.

necktie-quilt

The necktie quilt is made of 145 neckties. No two are alike!

Quilts he has made include a novel “necktie quilt”. The idea came when a friend gave him a large pile of neckties. It seems Philip likes free things, in fact his wife often said, “Don’t offer Philip anything free, or he’ll take it.” And it appears he puts these things to creative use.

Right now he’s in the process of making a quilt called “Around the World” for a missionary in their church. He has 800 pieces laid out for the quilt. The center is red for the blood shed by Jesus, surrounded by white to signify salvation, and then a row of heavenly blue. The rest is alternate rows of print and solid colors. Even he admits, “I sometimes get carried away.”

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The framed piece of a quilt given to his grandfather is treasured by the family.

On the wall of his apartment, he proudly displays a picture of his grandfather. On each side are framed pieces of a quilt given to his grandfather by his church congregation. Philip’s sister took it apart as it was beginning to fray and framed a piece of it for each of the twelve children.

philip-owen

One of Philip’s missions in life is to teach others to study the Bible.

Today Philip lives in Cambridge, Ohio where he keeps busy giving free lessons to those interested in making canes, walking sticks, baskets or wall plaques. He also teaches a special class on how to write you Life Story. Since he is a retired minister, he enjoys conducting Bible study at the Senior Center. When you consider that Philip is 88 years old, you can see why he feels blessed and wants to share his knowledge with others.

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This picture of Philip and his wife, Gene, was taken on their 50th wedding anniversary. They were married for 56 years.

Philip and his wife, Gene, had three children, who have followed in his footsteps. Joel and Philip are pastors, while daughter Barbara has served several years as a missionary. A grandson is following that path also, making four generations of pastors in their family. In Philip’s words, “The most important thing in life is to know God’s will…and do it.”

When asked if he wished he could have done anything else in life, Philip responded, “If I were able, I’d have a garbage collection business.” He sees so many things thrown away that could possibly be recycled into something new. His creative mind never sleeps.

 

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?

Another day older and deeper in debt

Those words rang true for the thousands of coal miners that lived in the vicinity of Guernsey County, Ohio during the early 1900s.

In order to honor these men and coal miners across the nation, a statue in their honor has been placed at the old train depot in Byesville, Ohio. This is no ordinary statue as it was commissioned by Alan Cottrill, internationally renowned sculptor, who has his studio in Zanesville.

The Train to Nowhere

These were busy tracks in their day, but today they have no traffic.

Why, you might ask, is this statue in Byesville? Why not place it in some larger city? Byesville was the coal capital of Ohio back in the early 1900s. Perhaps a hundred and fifty trains would roar down their tracks each day. Cars carried coal from Marietta to Cleveland and often into Canada.

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These volunteers were present for the dedication ceremonies.

Raising money for the statue was itself a challenge. Contributions came from local residents as well as all those who rode the now silent Byesville Scenic Railway. Total cost of this memorial was $40,000. So if you rode the train or visited their museum, perhaps you had a hand in making that statue become reality.

When you made a donation in any amount, you were given a badge saying:

I GAVE    COAL MINERS MEMORIAL    BYESVILLE OHIO

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This was no ordinary badge as it was designed very carefully. Each color on the badge had great significance.

Yellow stands for a beam of sunshine that sheds light on the darkness of the dungeon of a dark and gray mine.

Gray is for the rock/slate layers that are found above and below the seams of coal.

Black needs little explanation as it is the color of coal, also known as black diamonds, buried sunshine, or rocks that burn.

Red is for the color of blood that was spilled onto the ground from those who either lost their lives or were injured while working about the mine.

Bronze Coal Miner Statue

Bronze Coal Miner Statue

Everything on this bronze statue has meaning.

His hat gave him a place to hang his carbide light. This was the only light down in those coal black mines. The miner had to purchase the pellets to fill his carbide light…at the company store, of course.The coal mines gave them nothing. Why, they had to buy their own picks and dynamite! 

If you look closely at the statue, the miner’s brass tag reads 382, the number of coal miners who lost their lives in the deep mines of Guernsey County over the mines’ sixty active years.

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The sculpture pieces in Cottrill’s studio wait to be assembled.

The miner statue is missing his right index finger in honor of all the men injured in the mines. The dinner pail he carries was made by the Buckeye Aluminum Co. and was an important part of the miners day.

Many of those miners were immigrants, often called dumb hunkies  Everyone headed out to work swinging their dinner pail. The pails could not be set down on the mine floor or the rats, the miners’ mascot, would open them and eat their lunch. So miners always hung their dinner pails high on the mine wall.

A West Virginia ham sandwich was quite the treat. That ham by the way was what we call bologna.They always left a little something in their pail, just in case a cave in occurred and they might be below ground all night. If they made it safely through the day, the miners would let the children have their pails on the way home for a little snack.

From top to bottom each item has special significance from his hat to the dynamite at his feet.

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The dedication plaque at the statue

A portion of the plaque behind the statue states:

May the personal sufferings, sacrifices and the hardships endured by your families, never be forgotten nor taken for granted.

May the memory of these unsung heroes live on for generations.

The Coal Miner Memorial Statue can be found in Byesville, Ohio off I-77. Take Exit 41 and head into the small town of Byesville. Turn left on Second Street and two blocks down on the right hand side you will see the old train depot. The statue stands in front of the depot.

trail-run-view-with-church-by-tracks

This overview of Trail Run shows many of the homes, the church and the mines.

In the valley between Byesville and Buffalo, the small town of Trail Run can still be found. Years ago this town was a booming coal mining area with 2000 residents. Let’s take a trip back in time to see what this town was like in the early 1900s.

Originally, this area served as home to the Delaware Indians, who lived along Rocky Bottom until the early 1800s. They traded lead for whiskey along their trail beside the run.

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Men worked in the mines to provide for their families.

After the Indians were chased westward, this area had only a few scattered homes. But when coal was discovered in 1888, the town of Trail Run, officially called Robins, began. This town had two strong coal mines. The coal vein was best at No. 1 mine, where it was 6′ thick.

Many working these mines were Slovaks, Russians and Hungarians – about 1000 of them. When they arrived at Ellis Island, immigrants were greeted with signs written in their native language telling them where jobs were available. Most of the coal miners could not speak English so perhaps a sign in Slovak held up near the dock would have told them that jobs were open in the coal mines in Trail Run.

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Trail Run Mine No. 2 is shown just before closing in 1928.

Life in the coal mines was difficult but better than being hungry. Cambridge Collieries built about fifty houses in Trail Run so the coal miners would have a place to live. Rent was $12 a month for a small house on a dirt street, which had no name.

Church attendance, baseball and beer were three of their main forms of recreation in the early 1900s. Since the mines were closed on Sunday, that was their day for a little entertainment. Later, a pool hall, dance hall and bowling alley were added.

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St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Church served as home church for many of the Slavs, who worked in the mines.

Miners attended one of two churches in Trail Run. St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Church welcomed the Slovaks, which made up a large percentage of the miners. Others attended Bethlehem Methodist, which still exists today.

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St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Church had a large children’s class in  1914.

Five baseball diamonds could be found there. The coal mining towns all played each other, but there was a special rivalry between Upper Trail Run and Lower Trail Run. Baseball provided a great form of relaxation, which the families could watch and enjoy.

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Sikora’s Grocery on the corner of Trail Run Road and Robins Road was a popular place for supplies.

Often after the games, players would gather somewhere to drink a couple beers. There were two saloons in town. One of those bars, The Cave, was under Sikora’s Grocery. Or families might go to Williams or Checks stores for ice cream or candy.

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Men enjoyed visiting after church at Williams’ store.

Another way they might get something to drink happened in connection with the railroad. Cambridge Brewery would ship box car loads of beer barrels. If one just happened to fall from the train, a big party would ensue.

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Every day at least a hundred cars loaded with coal left Trail Run mines

Miners usually obtained free coal for their homes in much the same way. Since a hundred cars of coal left Trail Run daily, there was a good chance that coal might fall (or be accidentally pushed) from the train cars filled with coal. The children of the family would walk along the tracks picking up coal in a burlap sack, so their mother could cook and heat the house.

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Railroad track ran close to the first school at Trail Run in 1900.

The first school built in 1895 had a train track running beside it. When a train came by it was necessary to shut the windows to keep out the noise and the smoke.

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In 1923, this three-story, brick Community School provided education to grades 1-12.

However, in the 1930s, the mines shut down because people could get coal cheaper in West Virginia, Kentucky or Tennessee. Miners had to look elsewhere for employment. Some walked to work at nearby Senecaville, while others headed to Akron and Cleveland to work in the rubber and steel factories there. Population in Trail Run dwindled quickly.

Drive slowly through Trail Run some day while remembering those brave men and women who worked so hard to support their families in the only way they knew. Miners learned the value of hard work by working hard.

Trail Run is located in Ohio in Guernsey County south of Cambridge. Easiest route would be to take I-77, Exit 41 and head south on Vocational Road. Just past Bethlehem Methodist church, turn left on Robins Road. You will now head straight into Trail Run. Enjoy the adventure.

 

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The alpacas gather around Melissa for a taste of some ground feed in August.

Improve the lives of children and adults through a connection with the amazing spirit of animals.

That’s the goal of Melissa Snyder in the rolling hills of southeastern Ohio near Norwich, where she has created a home for alpacas. However, her story begins with a horse.

As a child, Melissa had a special horse call Capezio. This horse had a club foot and walked slowly but he was her special horse for thirty-two years. Capezio’s gentleness had children waiting in line at the petting zoo or for a pony ride at the fair. Melissa remembered, “His gift was to help kids. He was here to make kids happy.”

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While alpacas can stand very cold weather, the heat is something they try to avoid.

Capezio taught Melissa many lessons in life and developed her zeal for animals that needed that extra touch of loving care. So when she decided to name her farm, she knew that her passion for animals was a gift from Capezio; therefore, she named it Capezio’s Gift Ranch.

After she graduated from Lake Erie College with a degree in Entrepreneurship, she only raised horses. Then one day she purchased a pony that had an alpaca friend, who came as part of the bargain. A local vet told her that the alpaca would be stressed without another alpaca for company. The herd began.

alpaca-baby-don-diego

Eight day old, Don Diego, stays close to the fan with his mother, Miss Ellie and their last import, Appy.

The rare and exotic alpaca has been a treasure of the Andes for over 6,000 years. While they closely resemble the llama, who is a working animal, the friendly, gentle alpaca lives a life of luxury with their task being to eat and make exquisite fiber.

Over a period of a few years, alpacas became the center of Melissa’s life. Soon people were calling her to see if the ranch had room for another alpaca. One evening when she came home, an alpaca was tied to a post by their driveway. It appears that Melissa has a soft spot in her heart for any animal that needs fed. At this point, an alpaca rescue was established.

alpaca-shade-hut

This shade hut provides an escape on a hot summer day.

Alpacas might be Suri or Huacaya breeds, with Huacaya being the one most often needing rescued. The Suri fleece is long, straight and softer and demands a higher market price. These are seldom in need of rescue. The Huacaya have a short, curly fleece, which is also soft and fine.

Vet bills add up, so the size of the herd stops at around twenty. But if they need vet care, Melissa won’t deny them treatment. She has eaten peanut butter sandwiches for a couple of weeks in order to pay the vet. Extraordinary dedication!

alpaca-melissa-at-work

Work never stops as in the evenings, Melissa enjoys weaving and knitting with the soft fleece yarn.

Melissa and her partner, Nathan, do their own sheering when the temperature warms up in April and May. Then Melissa and a couple friends are responsible for cleaning, carding, spinning and weaving many items from the natural fiber that they receive.

Alpacas enjoy cold weather…even down to a -22 degrees doesn’t phase them. But heat is a different story so they have shade huts with fans to keep them cool on hot summer days.

Melissa works with the Living Waters Clover Crew 4-H Club, where she shares information on alpacas and has workshops on fiber use. Club members are encouraged to adopt an alpaca for their project so they can show them at the fair.

alpaca-cuteness

Addison feels a special connection to Delilah.

Capezio’s Gift Ranch covers all alpaca expenses for members of 4-H. This year some of the 4-H members showed them at the Muskingum County Fair and the Ohio State Fair.

alpaca-obstacle-course

Avalanche, a deaf alpaca, participated in the Obstacle Course at the The Ohio State Fair.

While fair judging centers on fleece and conformation, games at the fair provide great fun. Musical Rug, Leaping Llama, and Obstacle Course are favorites. Musical Rug is similar to Musical Chairs with the alpacas having to stop on a rug when the music stops. This year at the State Fair, that contest was won by a Capazeo alpaca…who was blind. The fun never stops!

alpaca-animals

Animals knitted from alpaca fleece feel soft and cuddly.

Alpacas are often adopted by fiber farmers, who want their own soft fleece for weaving.. Good retirement homes are always needed. They can be adopted for a fee.

While they usually eat hay and grain, like us they also enjoy treats. Some of their favorites are fig newtons, bananas, and raisins. Since they have no upper teeth, these soft foods are easy for them to chew.

alpaca-products

If you want to buy some of their products in Cambridge, Ohio, stop at their booth in County Bits on Wheeling Avenue..

Melissa dreams about someday having her own alpaca barn and showroom. The barn would provide an isolation spot for new alpacas and provide coolness on a hot summer day. In the showroom, visitors could experience making the yarn and see many beautiful finished products.

alpaca-booth

Last fall, Teddy came to the Cambridge Street Fair for the enjoyment of kids of all ages.

Melissa knows every alpaca in the field quite well. She knows their names and birthdates better than most people know this information about their families..Melissa takes great pleasure in talking about her friends, the alpacas.

Melissa Snyder can be reached  on Facebook at Capezio’s Gift Ranch, the easiest way to make a connection, or by phone at (740) 583-4030 .

 

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