Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Archive for the ‘Ohio’ Category

Cathy Gadd Combines Creative Abilities: Artist and Bluegrass Musician

cathy redoneCreativity runs through Cathy Gadd full steam ahead. Not only is Cathy an excellent artist, but she also plays bass in a musical group with her husband. Her creative side comes to life after working all day for Cambridge City Schools, where often she uses her creativity as well.

cathy sunflowers and barn

This old barn has a fencerow of sunflowers.

   All her talents were present from early childhood. Perhaps it started as doodling on her papers, but soon her teachers discovered this little girl had talent. She took art courses in high school and later in life took lessons from Sue Dodd. But even back in grade school and high school, Cathy was receiving first place ribbons for her artwork.

cathy and her dad

Cathy was playing bluegrass with her dad back in 1968/

   Music also occupied much of those early years. When she was eight, her dad, Richard Frasher, a Bluegrass musician, introduced her to the mandolin. After that, she began playing guitar and today she plays the upright bass. It’s important what we instill in our youngsters.

cathy country road

What a peaceful country road!

   At the age of ten, Cathy went with her parents to the Frontier Ranch Festival, where Loretta Lynn was performing. Eager young Cathy got as close to the stage as she could. When Loretta Lynn began singing “You Aren’t Woman Enough to Take My Man”, Cathy sang along. Loretta reached over the side of the stage and brought that little girl on stage to sing with her. What a memorable moment for an aspiring young singer!

cathy valentine bouquet

This bouquet she painted seems appropriate for Valentine’s Day or any romantic occasion.

   In seventh grade, she won a Country Music Contest in Woodsfield and four years later was singing in the All Ohio Youth Choir, which performed at the Ohio State Fair and around Ohio. The following year she took part in their European tour, a great time for a young girl from Barnesvillle.

   After her children were grown, Cathy again began performing with her dad on stage at various festivals and venues. Their talents were known from the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival to the Ohio River’s edge in Fly.


cathy church for advocacy auction

This painting was donated to an auction at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Guernsey County.

   Today many find out about her skill at painting through their Bluegrass connection. Cathy often donates one of her paintings to raise money at benefits. The orders follow.

cathy flag barn in snow

This flag barn in the snow certainly fits the winter season.

   Most of her pictures are painted with specific requests. Someone will send her a picture of a barn or house that they want to be painted. Within 7-14 hours, Cathy has re-created their favorite picture with her brushes on canvas. Her pictures reflect reality so well.

cathy barn with flag

This painting is on the Wall of Veterans in a home in New Martinsville, WV.

   One of her favorite things to paint is barns with the American flag. She has painted several of these on large 16′ x 24′ canvas. She’s always admired old barns and added the flag after her son served in Korea and Iraq and returned home safely.

cathy and frank

Frank and Cathy have always had that special musical connection.

   Life has been exciting for Cathy and her husband, Frank, as they have had many chances to demonstrate their Bluegrass talent. They formed the Wills Creek Band and for twelve years have performed all over Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

   Several times they have appeared on The Wheeling Jamboree, at the Pennyroyal Opera House, and festivals all over southeastern Ohio. Gospel music is a favorite of theirs and they frequently sing at their home country church, Wesley Community Chapel.

cathy and frank at jamboree

Frank and Cathy played at the Wheeling Jamboree Roadshow.

   An interesting sidenote is the fact that Cathy doesn’t read music. In fact, she says that bluegrass performers like to have ‘jam sessions’, which require that they just go with the flow of the music. Very adaptable!

cathy cd song writer

Cathy also likes to write songs and one of them is on this Stoneycreek CD.

   Cathy also writes her own songs. Often requested is her song, “Table of Memories”, which tells of her mother’s kitchen table, which was rather small, but filled with great family memories. One song she wrote is on a CD by Stoneycreek and is entitled, “Walk Along with Me”. This lady has so much talent.

Table of Memories”

Mom’s in the kitchen fixing dinner

The smell of fried chicken fills the air.

Soon we’ll all be sitting around the table

Making some memories to share.

Years later I look at that little table

And think of the years that have gone by

Someday I’ll get that little table

And keep the memories alive.

cathy and frank at badlands

Vacationing is something they hope to do more in the future. Here they visit the Badlands.

   As she thought about their musical life, Cathy remarked, “We are truly honored and privileged to have picked with some great talents.” Perhaps that’s because Frank and Cathy are great fun to be around as well as being known for their exceptional harmony. They are well known in Bluegrass circles.

cathy painting with cat molly

Her cat, Millie, likes to watch her paint.

   Cathy focuses on her paintings right now and dreams of traveling more when she retires. She has her eye on the New England states. Wherever she goes, this creative lady will find pictures to paint and songs to sing. What a talented artist!

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Laura Bates – A Lifetime of Community Involvement

Behind every success is effort.

Behind every effort is passion.

Behind every passion is someone with the courage to try.

Laura Salt Fork picture

Laura was a member of the Salt Fork Festival board and treasures this painting of her old family church in Noble County painted by a festival artist, Jim Secrest.

   Courage to promote local attractions is something Laura Bates still has a passion for after many years of community involvement. There’s no way to describe all her contributions in one short article, but here are a few highlights.

Laura and brothers

Brothers Eugene and Robert Williams sat with Laura on their farmhouse steps.

   Although Laura isn’t likely to tell her age, she will say that she was born on the day they repealed prohibition. Laura Williams grew up in the New Concord area and graduated from New Concord High School.

Laura and Andy 50th 001

Andy and Laura celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2012.

   While in high school, Laura worked part-time at Ohio Valley Dairy, where she met her husband, Andy Bates. Although she went to Columbus and worked for a couple years, it didn’t take her long to return to New Concord, get married and raise a family of three sons.

   While raising her family, Laura worked part-time at WILE writing continuity, scripts for advertising, and was the first woman to have a weekly community show from New Concord, Byesville and Caldwell.

   One interesting project at the radio station involved Betty Crocker coupons, which gave great rewards. The station collected 700,000 coupons with which they were given a dialysis machine. It was donated to Riverside Hospital in Columbus, their first dialysis machine ever, in memory of Betty Lou Showman, a Bloomfield lady who had needed a kidney transplant.

Laura Tomahawk

Laura helped with the Bicentennial of Guernsey County when Boyd Glass created a commemorative tomahawk.

   For nearly ten years, Laura worked with the Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival. She served on their board, wrote publicity for the festival and was in charge of the Performing Arts. She served as president of the board at a time when there were 225 exhibitors.

  Church has always been an important part of her life. Bloomfield United Presbyterian Church considers itself fortunate to have Laura as an active member there. As a cancer survivor, Laura feels she is indeed blessed, “There are no crumbs at God’s table. He uses everything.” She feels God has a use for each of us.

Laura Daffodil Luncheon model 001

Modeling at the Daffodil Luncheon was pure enjoyment for Laura.

   Working with local Channel 2 TV, Laura was host of a popular “Two About Town” show – every day for fifteen years. Here she talked to many local organizations about their promotions and activities. She was a natural as everyone knows that Laura enjoys talking, but more importantly, she’s a great listener.

Laura on stage

Laura organized the Hopalong Cassidy Festival and usually emceed the event.

   The most recent avenue for involvement has been with Hopalong Cassidy. Laura worked at the local radio/television station and was conducting an interview with a lady, who remarked, “I can’t believe your town hasn’t done something special with your Hopalong Cassidy heritage.”

Laura tries on Hoppy's boots 001

Visiting Boyd’s home in California, Laura tried on Hoppy’s boots.

   Bill Boyd, later known as Hopalong Cassidy, was born in 1895 at Hendrysburg and later moved to Cambridge, where he attended Park School and Second United Presbyterian Church. His dream even then was to be a cowboy in the movies. Before long, Bill left for Hollywood, and the rest is history.

   After the interview, Laura thought about this, and realized there were many people still interested in Hopalong Cassidy. That’s when she came up with the idea for a Hopalong Cassidy Festival, which was held each May for 47 years.

Laura and Grace 001

Laura and Grace Boyd, Hoppy’s wife, became good friends.

   Not only did Laura direct the Festival, but she began her own collection of Hopalong Cassidy memorabilia and had the recent Hopalong Cassidy Museum in Cambridge. Grace Boyd, Hoppy’s wife, became one of Laura’s closest friends.

Laura and Don McLean 001

Dan McLean, singer-songwriter, wrote the introduction to “Hopalong Cassidy an American Legend”. Laura attended one of his concerts to give him a Hoppy watch.

   In 1984, Laura was named the Jeffersonian Person of the Year and later given the Sidlo Award by the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce. These were given because of her excellence in vision, leadership and legacy to promote the community.

Hoppy with Laura and Alan

This Hopalong Cassidy statue was dedicated at the Senior Center with Laura and Alan Cottrill, sculptor, present.

   When the festival came to an end, Laura still wanted Hopalong to be remembered in the area, so she began a drive to raise funds for a bronze statue of Hopalong Cassidy to be created by Alan Cottrill, an international sculptor. Today that statue can be found at our Senior Center.

   No wonder Hopalong Cassidy’s faithful buckaroos say, “Laura is the best friend Hoppy ever had.” Hoppy fans all over the world know this lady and keep a strong connection by visits, cards and gifts.

   Traveling is something she has enjoyed throughout her life with trips to Scotland, England, Ireland, Mexico and nearly all the states. Andy and Laura even renewed their wedding vows on a cruise in the Caribbean. A short trip she’d still like to take is one to see the Ark Encounter in Kentucky.

Laura Hopalong Cassidy Book

Laura treasures this Hopalong Cassidy book with its unique cover. Someday she plans to finish her own book about the cowboy legend, Hopalong Cassidy.

   Laura mentioned a couple of other things she’d like to do. Jokingly, she says she’d like to have her house cleaned up, but she has so many other things to do that are more enjoyable. Most important, she has started a book about Hopalong Cassidy and his local connection and plans to spend more time getting it organized.

Laura Family

Family is most important to Laura with three sons, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

   Most important of all is Family. Her feelings for her family were expressed by saying, “My family moments are more important to me than anything I have ever done. Our 50th wedding anniversary when everyone was here was a very special day.”

   While Laura lives life to the fullest and continues to promote her community, now we’ll have to keep on the lookout for Laura’s book about Hoppy. In the meantime, have a Hoppy Day!

Family Memories of Guernsey County’s Annie Oakley

Emma Thompson Feeds

This old metal sign from 1913 stirred up family memories of their great-aunt, Emma Sherby.

Memories awaken when a picture or object appears that opens doors to the past. Recently, an original Thompson Feed Company sign brought back memories to the family of Emma Sherby as it stated: No Hunting Without Permission.

 

Emma Thompson Feed 001

This popular feed mill was located at 125 N. 7th Street, where the Genealogical Society is located today.

   In 1913, Ohio decided that hunters needed to have a license. Young Emma at the age of 17 purchased one of those early licenses for the fee of ONE DOLLAR in Cambridge at the Guernsey County Clerk of Courts. She was a very slim girl as the license listed her at 5’9” and 120 pounds with light hair and blue eyes.

 

Emma's Hunting License

Emma was the first woman to have a hunting license in Guernsey County, and perhaps in the state of Ohio.

   Since the law went into effect on November 12 and Emma purchased her license on November 15, she definitely was one of the first to purchase a license and also the first licensed female hunter in Guernsey County.

   Word of this early license spread quickly and an article titled “Girl Hunter Bags Rabbits for Tables of Mining Settlement” was written in the Cleveland Press on November 29, 1913. Hank Sherby still has that original article as well as the cloth hunting license issued to his great-aunt Emma.

 

Emma Cleveland Press

An article about Emma appeared in the Cleveland Press in November, 1913.

   Using a W. Richards Double Barrel Shotgun, her hunting ability was well known in the area as she liked to explore the out-of-doors and often bagged wildlife not only for her own family but for the neighbors as well. Some even called her Guernsey County’s Annie Oakley.

   Back in 1896, Dr. Robbins came to the farm’s log cabin on horseback to deliver baby Emma. A large ledger contains this information about the day she was born: “May 8, 1896, Emma born Friday at 4 o’clock on the farm in the afternoon.” Two months later they moved to the house where Emma lived the rest of her life.

 

Emma's house

She spent her entire life in this house on Cherry Hill Road.

   Her parents, Michael and Josephine Sherby, had four children: Elvin, Emma and twins Ella and Emanuel. Michael was a headhunter recruiting miners for Cambridge Collieries and rented houses on Buffalo Mine Road to miners. Later he worked for Byesville State Bank.

  Dependable seems a proper word to describe Emma. She worked hard all her life. Emma never married but cared for her family by working the farm to pay bills, raising a large garden, canning chickens for winter food, and was a beekeeper to keep honey on the table. Hank describes her as “a hunter/trapper/fisherwoman..a true country girl.” Sounds more and more like Annie Oakley!

 

Emma with fish from their farm pond

Their farm pond supplied fish for the family and also water for the miners’ homes.

 Sometimes when money was scarce during the Depression, Emma would take feathers from the chickens and ducks and barter them for goods at the general store. People enjoyed having the feathers for their pillows and comforters.

  Hank and his brother, Robert, fondly remember bringing in a bucket of blackberries to Emma in the summertime. She would then fire up the wood stove and bake them a blackberry pie in a small tin. Still sounds delicious! It was no secret that Emma had a sweet tooth as well.

 

Emma's traps

These traps were used by Emma to capture animals for fur.

   Although she had the important hunting license, Emma never cared to get a driver’s license. In fact, it is said that Emma never left Guernsey County in her life except when she had to register for Social Security.

   She worked so hard that one wonders what she did for relaxation. Every day the flowers she grew gave her pleasure, but on Sundays, she could often be found riding her white horse on a trail ride in the vicinity of Cherry Hill.

 

Emma's gun with Hank

Hank Sherby feels lucky to still have his great-aunt’s gun.

   Having grown up in the Depression, Emma saved everything and some would say she was a hoarder. In their barn, she had saved a pile of cherry boards that she always said would be used for something special. When Emma died at the age of 93, they made her casket from these cherry boards and had the funeral at the farm where she lived her entire life.

   This lady lived from 1896 – 1983 so would have seen many changes in our world. After living through the Great Depression, it’s easy to understand why Emma saved everything. She didn’t want to have to do without again. Imagine her excitement at seeing those first automobiles, telephones, television, and even a man landing on the moon. Family remembers that Emma kept up with the news and they received four newspapers in their house.

 

Emma gun

Emma hunted with a W. Richards double-barrel shotgun, a gift from her dad.

   Annie Oakley expressed her feelings when she said, “Any woman who does not thoroughly enjoy tramping across the country on a clear frosty morning with a good gun and a pair of dogs does not know how to enjoy life.” Have a feeling that Emma would have agreed.

   Liberated women have been with us throughout history. That’s nothing new. Emma certainly depicted that image from a very early age and continued to do things throughout her life that people today would label as ‘liberated’. Emma Sherby was just ahead of her time.

Today’s Fairview – Yesterday’s Pennyroyaldom

Kenny Keylor

The late Keny Keylor shared stories of Fairview and Pennyroyal Reunions.

Those who have lived in Fairview for a long time, have great memories to share that perhaps some have forgotten. Kenny Keylor had been around for 91 years. He shared some stories and pictures with me during a recent visit.

Fairview Bradshaw Tavern

Bradshaw Tavern and Inn along the old Zane’s Trace had famous visitors such as Henry Clay.

   A group from Maryland led by Ralph Cowgill and Hugh Gilliland stayed at the Bradshaw Inn as they walked the old Wheeling Road. When they stopped along the way some climbed a hill and are said to comment, “My, what a fair view.” The name stuck!

Fairview Main Street - small

This is a view of Fairview’s Main Street back in the 1800s.

   The town was laid out by Hugh Gilliland in 1814 on the border of Guernsey and Belmont counties. He platted thirty lots, each one-fourth of an acre and fronting on each side of the Wheeling Road. By 1866, 555 people lived there – it’s highest population.

DSC02524

A painting of the pennyroyal pant hangs in the Opera House today.

   A big attraction back in 1806 were the fields of pennyroyal that grew wild in the area. The herb received its name because it was a favorite of the English royalty who treated headaches, cold, arthritis and dizziness with this oil. Thus, the name Pennyroyaldom for the area.

Pennyroyal Distillery Postcard

Pennyroyal Distillery, where they made the “cure-all oil”, was captured on this old postcard.

   Benjamin Borton had learned how to distill the pennyroyal oil while living in New Jersey. His sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons continued in the business selling this “cure-all” oil after the family moved to Fairview.

Fairview looking west on National Road - UP Church in foreground

United Presbyterian Church sat along the old National Road looking west.

   This oil, along with tobacco, both “cash crops”, were shipped by freight wagons on the Old National Road to the eastern markets. Fairview produced more Pennyroyal Oil than any other place in the nation. Its medicinal purposes were still being sold in the 1980s until the government labeled it a possible carcinogen.

Fairview Home of Dr. Arnold

The home of Dr. H.J. Arnold in 1915 still stands today.

   Since the town was growing, Fairview became filled with many needed businesses: general stores, grist mill, millinery store, two hotels, and three cigar factories. Over twenty different occupations found a place in town to hang their shingle: dentist, doctor, undertaker, barber, and blacksmith to name a few. As you can tell, this was a thriving little community.

Fairview Costume House by O.G. Boyd

O.G. Boyd had this costume house in town and organized their Pennyroyal parade.

   A medical school existed in Fairview taught by Dr. T. McPherson. If someone wanted to become a doctor, he had to serve three years in the school and then one year in Columbus. They even had two local grave robbers who supplied cadavers to the school.

   To maintain their heritage, every August from 1880 until 2014, residents of Fairview and descendants of Fairview residents gathered for the Pennyroyal Reunion to enjoy music, food and a chance to share stories of Fairview.

thumbnail_Pennyroyal Reunion 1946

A large crowd attended the Pennyroyal Reunion in 1945.

   The first reunion was held in 1880 in Gardenia Grove just west of Fairview with 4500 people present. Organized by David Taylor, editor of the Guernsey Times, Sarchet’s History of Guernsey County states that Taylor was “the presiding genius and program maker of the Pennyroyal Reunion.” He gave the organization state-wide recognition as the greatest of all harvest-home picnics.

Fairview Pennyroyal Parade 2

People lined Fairview’s Main Street to watch the annual parade.

   The Governor of Ohio spoke at the Pennyroyal Reunion. He stayed in Barnesville and a horse and buggy brought him to Fairview, where he gave a speech in the afternoon. Five officials, who later became Presidents of the United States, also joined in the celebrations.

Fairview Pennyroyal Royalty

Pennyroyal Royalty highlighted festivities at the reunion.

   Kenny Keylor has been a big supporter of his community and the reunion for all his life. He played his guitar as part of the entertainment. His collection of Pennyroyal Reunion programs has only five years missing.

   In earlier years, entertainment took many forms. Minstrel shows were very popular and one year a three-act play was performed. Most recently their entertainment has been bluegrass music. But every year a chorus performed their Pennyroyal Song, Down in Ohio, with lyrics and music written by John H. Sarchet, who directed the chorus for many years.

Opera House

The building for today’s Pennyroyal Opera House has been around for over 150 years.

   Since those early days of Pennyroyaldom, today Fairview survives as a small town with a population of between 80 and 85. But their heritage is never forgotten as seen in these words from the first Pennyroyal Reunion program in 1880:

As each returning year revolves in time,

May all true sons of childhood’s happy home

Return from distant places, where they roam,

And keep a day in stories and in rhyme.”

~Robert B BuchananFairview sign

Fairview is located along I-70 today between Wheeling, WV and Cambridge, OH. Take exit 198 to the north of the interstate and turn left into the small town of Fairview. You might want to visit sometime when the Pennyroyal Opera House has some great bluegrass music.

Canton Palace Theatre Presents Year-round Entertainment

canton theater

Today the Palace Theatre seats nearly 1500 guests.

Visit a theater where movies can be seen as they were in the 1920s. It still exists in downtown Canton, where you’ll find the Palace Theatre, a nostalgic part of Canton’s Downtown Arts District.

tonsiline ad

Sale of the Tonsiline medication provided funds for the million dollar theatre.

   Hard to believe this all began with the financial support of a local entrepreneur who made cough syrup. In 1909, Harry Harper Ink received a patent for Tonsiline, a product to cure tonsilitis, sore throats, colds and coughs. The bottle containing the medication was in unique giraffe shaped bottles. Advertisements for this product said:

If you had a neck as long as this fellow

And a sore throat all the way down,

Tonsiline would quickly relieve it.

tonsiline bottle

An original long-necked Tonsiline bottle with a giraffe pictured.

  When the theater opened on November 22, 1926, two giraffe-shaped plaques were located above the stage arch as reminiscent of this motif to honor Ivy, who gave this gift to the community. Gasoline only cost pennies a gallon then, so people had funds available for a night on the town. Even though there were nine other movie theaters at the time, the million-dollar Canton Palace Theatre was considered the “jewel in the crown”.

jay ac

The original Air Conditioning system is still being used today.

   Designed by Austrian-born architect, John Eberson of Chicago, the Palace sought to re-create a Spanish courtyard on a midsummer night. Its ceiling appears as a starry night with wisps of clouds floating across.

   Today the Palace still has that original cloud machine that projects that dreamlike quality overhead. Ivy suggested long ago that you sit in different places during each visit to view the constellations that appear at various angles.

jay post card

This postcard view highlights the beautiful Canton Palace Theatre.

   Their gigantic silver screen, measuring 21′ x 46′, still remains the largest movie screen in Canton. The orchestra pit has seating for eighteen musicians while downstairs there are eleven dressing rooms, a chorus room, and much more.

    Their first show was a silent movie, “Tin Hats”. Admission was 25 cents and the 1900 seat auditorium was filled. The early shows presented a full evening of entertainment beginning with an organ/orchestra concert, a short silent film, live vaudeville acts, and ending with a full length feature silent film. That’s a great night of entertainment for a quarter!

jay mahogany furniture and tile

An upstairs lounge displays a restored mahogany bench with original tile in the background.

   This was the time of the Charleston craze. Motion pictures featured Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. As time marched on, many famous stars appeared including George Burns and Jean Peters. Big Bands, such as Harry James and Count Basie Orchestra, found it the perfect fantasy setting for a concert.

jay roman statue

Pietro Caproni bronze statues appear throughout the theatre.

   But in the 60s and 70s, downtown Canton had a period of neglect as businesses moved to the suburbs. It’s marquee last sparkled on its 50th Anniversary in 1976. The building was slated for demolition.

jay original balcony seats (2)

The balcony seats are originals and a ghost is frequently seen here.

   Just one week before the wrecking ball was scheduled, the Canton Jaycees acted as a holding agent until citizens could be organized to make the Palace Theatre a place to be enjoyed once again. The Canton Palace Theatre Association was formed and restoration has been going on ever since. Since 1980, over four million dollars have been spent in restoration and updating.

jay palace theater

Historic Canton Palace Theatre presents concerts, movies and live events.

   Today, it’s marquee again burns brightly above Market Avenue and welcomes you to its grand foyer. Over 300 events are held here each year with an attendance of over 100,000 guests. Their great variety includes concerts, stage plays and movies, but you might also find public meetings using it as a perfect place to seat a large crowd.

jay at organ 2

Jay Spencer brings to life the original Kilgen Wonder Organ.

   Silent films are a special feature as they are accompanied by Jay Spencer on the original Kilgen Wonder Organ, which is a showpiece all by itself. The sound vibrates throughout the entire auditorium as it captures the happenings of the silent movies. The next silent movie special will be “The Cameraman” with Buster Keaton on Thursday, April 4.

  Check out their schedule for future events on their website at cantonpalacetheatre.org. Of special interest is their First Friday family-friendly movie night each month. It’s free for the whole family!

   Make plans to attend the Canton Palace Theatre sometime soon to enjoy a great movie, concert or stage performance. Relive old memories and make new ones. Feel the magic!

Canton Palace Theatre is located at 605 Market Avenue N. in Canton, Ohio just a couple blocks west of I-77. 

Possum Products Creates Basic Wooden Toys

Russ with saw

Russell uses a special saw to cut out pieces for his wooden toys.

Toys for kids of all ages can be found at Possum Products in Newcomerstown. Russ Riggle creates quality handmade wooden toys from over seventy different items he has designed.

Russ Basic Wooden Toy

The popular trend today is to return to the basics with his small wooden car.

   Making toys was a hobby for Russ for many years. He’s always had a passion for building things from wood and remembers a very rough wooden car he built at the age of five. By the time he was in fourth grade, he built a wooden Viking ship. Now his toys are more elaborate and much better quality.

Russ working on wheels

The wheels for his toys are all custom made and attached with wooden pegs.

   After working as a mechanical engineer for many years, his job moved overseas about seven years ago. At that time, he started selling some of the toys he made at the Newcomerstown Farmers’ Market. Sitting around isn’t something that Russ enjoys, so he began experimenting with new designs and products. Russ claims that he makes “anything with four wheels or that can fly in the sky”.

Russ building trucks

Assembling the toys is a bit like putting a puzzle together.

   Besides their being quality toys, they are all made right here in Newcomerstown, Ohio with U.S.A. materials. All toys are smoothly sanded but there is no finish applied. They are lead-free, with no metal or plastic parts and the glue is even food grade in case a young child just happens to chew on it.

   Now he travels to festivals and craft shows all over the state and has even expanded his shows to some out-of-state venues. His toys are very popular as people like to buy things that are created with American-made materials and craftsmanship.

Russ Setting Up

Son Adam helps his dad Russ set up the booth at the Paul Bunyan Festival.

   His sons enjoy helping at the festivals and even make a few wooden toys of their own. Adam and Ben frequently appear to help their dad with setting up the booth. Both enjoy talking to the customers as much as Russ does, and Russ says they are both great salesmen as well.

Russ display

Children like to play with the many toys on display at festival times.

   Having seen Possum Products at the Paul Bunyan Show, Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival, and Algonquin Mill Fall Festival, it became evident that their products were something that people from birth to ninety years old enjoy. Boys and girls walk up to their booth and roll the toys along the table, often reorganizing it. It’s a great tool for developing their imagination.

Russ Log truck

This wooden log truck complete with pine logs is his most popular toy.

   One little girl found a snowplow on the table, picked it up and walked outside. There she decided to move some gravel around with the snowplow. She put that toy to work.

   Their display includes a large selection of small wooden animals, which the children pick up and name. One youngster was naming the animals and came to one they called “Cloud”, which was really a sheep. Another cute name the children came up with was “Fast Food” for a pig on wheels.

Russ semi with race car

Get two wooden toys together with this semi carrying a race car.

   Since Russ works out of his basement at home, purchases must be made from the website and festivals he visits. They are busy with shows, and just recently had done eight shows in three weekends. Now you see why it’s important to have his sons involved.

    A rather popular way of using the wooden items is to laser etch the customer’s logo onto the sides. Then they can hand out the wooden truck or tractor with a long-term advertisement. While he doesn’t do custom work, he does get many ideas from his customers for future toys.

Russ helicopter 2

This made a great gift for a helicopter pilot.

   This is Russ’ only job right now and he spends many long hours doing something that he thoroughly enjoys. Making trains, planes, trucks, and tractors takes time and patience as he uses his own designs and even custom-makes his wheels. His prices are very reasonable ranging from $2 for small animals to $72 for a train.

Russ Salt Fork tent

Possum Products displayed at the Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival.

   Visit Russ on his website www.possumproductsllc.com or see his toys in person at a festival or consignment shop near you. In the coming year, Possum Products will be going to Algonquin Mill Fall Festival, Pike Elementary, Roscoe Village and the Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival.

   For the guys at Possum Products, the best thing about making toys is the look on a child’s face when they pick up the toys. Russ takes pride in the wooden toys he makes. When he isn’t making toys, he’s playing with them!

COSI – A Great Place to Spend a Winter’s Day

COSI outside

COSI provides a great place for school field trips at any time of the year.

When the weather outside is frightful, inside COSI is still delightful. It’s easy to spend an entire day there without any problem. There’s no age limit on enjoyment as kids from 1-100 enjoy interacting with the exhibits.

   This all began in 1958 as a dream of Sandy Hallack, an advertising executive, who thought Columbus would be the perfect place for a science museum. It took time and determination to get the cooperation of the community, but his dream was fulfilled in 1964.

COSI Hope Street Market

Visit businesses from 1898, then turn the corner and see these same businesses in 1962. Progress!

   The old Memorial Hall building became its first home for the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) and over 5000 people visited on Opening Day. Admission was 50 cents for an adult and 25 cents for children.

   So many museums are places where you can’t touch anything. Hallack wanted a place where you could not only touch things but move them and take them apart. Many say, “It’s the jewel of the community.”

COSI High Wire Unicycle Rider

Adults and children thrill during trips across the High Wire Unicycle.

   In 1999, they moved to a new home built especially for COSI. Since that first opening, over 33,000,000 people have visited both sites. That’s impressive!

   There’s so much variety of scientific displays that it’s impossible to cover all of them fully. These are some of the highlights that impressed me on a recent visit.

COSI Tyranosaurus Rex

Children stop to study Tyrannosaurus Rex in the Dinosaur Gallery.

   Dinosaurs are here! New discoveries and new technology are helping scientists piece together information to see what dinosaurs were really like. In this permanent exhibit, see a reconstructed Tyrannosaurus Rex in actual size.

COSI Stegasauras

Life-size skeletons of dinosaurs, such as Stegosaurus, help make history come alive.

   View a collection of dinosaur prints found on a farm in Texas. An interesting section shows the transition from dinosaur to bird. Be sure to catch a glimpse of Toasty, their gila monster before you leave. This is just a taste of what you will find at COSI’s Dinosaur Gallery.

   On the first floor, you also see the wide variety of traveling exhibits in the American Museum of Natural History. Right now that exhibit explores the “Power of Poison”. Find stories about how poisons have worked throughout history. This exhibit will soon be replaced with another traveling exhibit “Dragons, Unicorns, and Mermaids”. Let your imagination expand!

COSI Space capsule

Test your skills as an armchair astronaut in a SImulated Space Capsule Ride.

   Their planetarium is the largest in the state of Ohio. Various shows can be seen throughout the day. “Wildest Weather” lets you witness weather found on all the planets from dust storms on Mars or the whirling, high-speed winds on Venus to a trip through the asteroid belt.

   In the Human Body section, you can have your pulse taken, check out your age through technological viewing, and view all the body parts while learning their functions. One special room there was the “Echo Free Room”, where you could enter a very quiet and peaceful place, almost as quiet as my apartment.

COSI Poseidon's Realm

Poseidon’s Realm in the Ocean creates an opportunity to explore water with hands-on experiences.

   Children love to play in water so the Ocean exhibit appeals to almost everyone. Parents and grandparents can be seen joining in the water fun. Touch, hold and feel the water as you study the mysteries of Poseidon’s realm.

COSI Baby Alligator

A COSI guide encourages children to touch, Tick-Tock, an American Alligator baby.

   Another spot that is coming up on January 26 is called “Large in Charge” and will teach people about alligators and crocodiles, who have roamed the planet for over 200 million years. This is one of those preview places where a COSI guide had an American Alligator Baby, called “Tick-Tock”, for children to touch.

COSI Kids Space

A safe haven is provided for small children to place in Kids Space, an enclosed area.

   An interesting place on the second floor was called “Kids Space” and only children under six were allowed in and they were carefully monitored. Here little ones could play in a tree house, visit a barnyard, climb in an ambulance or paint pictures. There was even a place to play with water at Splish Splash. What fun!

COSI WOSU

See yourself perform on WOSU TV or check out their giant kaleidoscope.

   Sometime during the day, you’ll most likely want to stop at the National Geographic Giant Screen Theater – The Ultimate Window to the World. Now showing several times a day are “Oceans” and “Incredible Predators”.

COSI Bathroom door

Educational information continues even on the doors of the restrooms.

   Everywhere there are hands-on things to try as answers to science questions are discovered. COSI employees can be found giving lectures in small auditoriums or demonstrating experiments and animals in the hallways. It’s non-stop entertainment if you love adventure or science.

COSI on wheels

COSI on Wheels has visited over 7.5 million students at their schools.

   Field trips to COSI create learning experiences, but if your school isn’t able to attend perhaps they would like to have a visit from COSI on Wheels. This program takes special features of COSI to schools in the area with the farthest they have ever gone to Memphis, Tennessee. Students from Kindergarten to 6th grade find their dynamic science activities of interest.

COSI Laser Harp

Music lovers always stop to play the Laser Harp before leaving COSI.

   Children have a great time exploring COSI and so do adults. You’ll discover something new each time you stop by. Plan a visit soon for a day filled with fun while learning. Kids of all ages are welcome!

COSI is located in Columbus, Ohio at 333 W. Broad Street. Take I-70 and use exit 99C. Your GPS will be handy for a few turns before arriving at Broad Street. Some may prefer to follow Route 40 (Broad Street) through downtown Columbus. COSI is right along the bank of the Scioto River.

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