Tuesday, September 23, 2014

My stories

It took 25 years to accumulate and one day to destroy the contents of a box of newspaper clippings and photo copies of stories I wrote during my tenure with the local newspaper.

I was fired in May.

Two days ago I removed the lid and looked inside the box holding the contents of my desk that sat in the foyer of our home for FOUR months.

The Old Man prodded me to do SOMETHING with the box. He said I should throw away the contents - a celebratory end to a job that became tumultuous the last two years I worked from home. A job he said I should have left long ago because of management problems.

But I knew what was in the box.

My stories.

The story of Capt. James William "Bill" Reed, whose remains were found in 1994 - 24 years after his plane crashed in Laos during the Vietnam War.

The story of a long-abandoned one-room schoolhouse at Glady Valley in Noble County that got new life with Amish students.

My work at the newspaper began a week after my graduation from college, in June 1989, and lasted until earlier this year.

That's a significant period of time and included three different bylines - Lisa McDonald (my maiden name), Lisa L. Short (a former marriage), and Lisa Loos (my current name). One person; three names.

Writing was my forte, and in the years when I was solely a reporter, I wrote a LOT.

I see that the other work I did - which was every job in the newsroom except sports - only added to my resume. But writing was what I did very well. And something I can be proud of.

But keeping the box in my foyer - a foot from my front door - was hindering my move forward. I need to move on and put this time behind me.

Most of the stories in the box are now in the trash or the recycle bin ready to go to City Park. I have, however, kept original clippings of a few that appeal to me. A few that I would be proud to share with our great-grandchildren who might cry disbelief learning I worked at a newspaper. Just because there may not be too many newspapers left when they learn to read.

I will show them the story of the steel vault containing a casket that was exposed on shore of Salt Fork State Park in 1993 and later re interred in Pleasant Hill Cemetery.

They might read about Andy Rocker's slaying of his wife. He was city law director at the time and I covered city police department and City Hall.

I covered the State of Ohio's announcement of a prison in Noble County, its opposition by locals, its construction and opening.

I wrote about the discovery of an animal resembling a half-deer, half-cow near a Sencaville farm, a trick roper Trevor Dreher of Coshocton, and an ostrich farm new Newcomerstown.

I wrote about Cambridge City Council's approval of an ordinance banning exotic animals here in 1992.

When the Capitol Bowling Lanes burned to the ground on Jan. 16, 1994, I was there. Frozen pen and all. From that day on I always had a pencil handy when I worked outdoors in the winter. Sub-zero temperatures that morning hindered firefighters' efforts to battle the blaze.

I covered the development of the site of the first oil well in Noble County - the Thorla-McKee well, a project lead by my personal childhood physician, Dr. Sherman B. Smith.

I helped cover the case of serial killer and arsonist Thomas Lee Dillon.

I met and became friend with and wrote about two unique characters - cowboy Chester Grey who at age 71 handcrafted a prairie schooner, and his sister Pauli Cornish, matriarch of the Kennedy Stone House Museum.

I met and wrote about a chainsaw sculptor Conrad Sandoval, fiddle maker and player Flavil Miller, and quilters Stella George and Martha Reed, and nurse Twila Thacker.

I wrote a story in 1993, announcing the opening of a homeless shelter in Cambridge, the brainchild of 14-year-old Michael Curtis and his mother, Anita.

The Cumberland-Spencer Homemakers shared with me their home remedies which I wrote about and shared with readers.

I've talked to fair veterinarians, written about buffaloes roaming on Pigeon Gap Road, bobcats in Noble County, and a 1990 visit by media mogul Ted Turner to Marietta College.

I met and wrote about a self-proclaimed clairvoyant, Eugene Lewis, of Sharon in Noble County.

I toured and wrote about the restoration of the Ball-Caldwell House in Caldwell, and the dedication of a new library there in 1989.

Later I wrote about the deadly Flood of 1998, and still later, President George W. Bush's visit to Cambridge on July 31, 2004. The latter was a journalistic opportunity for the newspaper and myself.

The excitement of working on the front page and then covering Bush's rally was a once-in-a-lifetime event for me.

I don't regret my time writing with the newspaper.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Ending to a story?

I lost my job.

Months ago.

I haven't talked about this but I'm gonna.

She was like a sister-mother to me and I haven't seen her since the day I walked into our office and an hour and a half later I walked out - forever.

We haven't talked on the phone.

The only communication has been by email and in that her revelation that it's awkward for her.

I don't understand how it can be awkward to be my friend ...

So I've told her she wasn't the kind of friend I expected.

"You should not expect too much from people," another friend told me recently.

I think he's right.

Because with expectations you can get hurt.

I'm hurt.

I read this somewhere: When people walk away from you, let them go. Your destiny is never tied to anyone who leaves you, and it doesn't mean they are bad people. It just means that their part in your story is over.

It's hard to let go.

But she's eating cake and the days go on.

I'm wondering why she walked away.

I'm wondering what is the ending to this story.

Is her part in my story over?

Grandma McDonald's Tuna Casserole




Tuna Casserole is quick after a track meet

Welcome back to Vintage Family Fixin's.

I prepared this week's recipe after a middle school track meet to feed members of my family who didn't get their fill of pizza, hot dogs and other concessions at the chilly Cambridge event.

It is from my late grandmother Ruth (DeVol) McDonald's recipe box, and after we all tasted it … devoured it … I told my sons I wished she was here to tell her how much we loved it.

Grandma and Grandpa McDonald helped take care of me after my mother, Sandra Ellen (Watson) McDonald, died, and my father, Fred S. McDonald II, worked in Columbus.

Grandma worked a full-time job at the Noble County Courthouse. Grandpa (Fred) was a carpenter with Hill's Store in Caldwell. He was well known for laying carpet and linoleum in many Noble County homes.
Me following my graduation from Caldwell High School in 1984 with my grandparents, the late Fred and Ruth McDonald.

I'm convinced this was something grandma and grandpa made regularly as it is quick to prepare and very tasty.

Tuna Casserole

Mix together:

1 - 10 1/2 ounce condensed cream of mushroom soup

1 - 8/12 ounce drained small sweet peas

1- 5.33 ounce can chunk tuna

Pour into baked 9 inch pie shell. Bake 25 minutes in 350 degree oven.

Top with 3 1/2 ounces of french fried onion rings.

Bake 5 minutes more.


I used solid white albacore tuna and a frozen Pillsbury Pet-Ritz 9 inch deep dish pie crust which I baked for 15 minutes just before making this dish. This recipe is labeled a casserole but resembles a pot pie both in appearance and taste.

My husband asked if it was made with turkey or chicken. LOL

My star runner, William Donis Loos, had three helpings.

Today's bonus recipe is from Carrie Beatrice "Bea" (Tompkins) Loos' recipe box.

Bea was my husband, David's grandmother and she died on Dec. 9, 2001. I was blessed to have met and spent some time with her before she died.

She and her husband Willard (who my runner is named after) owned and operated the former Loos Produce poultry dressing business on the city's West End before retiring to a farm off Route 662 on Loos Lane.

Bea and Willard had two sons, John and Donis "Don;," the later was my husband's father. Don died before David and I met. Our son Will is named after him too.

This recipe is does not have a title but it is "from the kitchen of Don Loos."

Don Loos was a cook at several places in town.

I'm going to call it Don's Hash.


Don's Hash

1 package dried beef

1 tablespoon butter

1 can of potato soup

1/3 cup milk

1/3 cup cream

1 small can or 1 cup peas

Lightly brown beef in butter, add soup, milk, creams and peas. Heat and serve.

Let me know if you try the recipes and please share any stories you have with me about any of the people I talk about in my columns.

Caldwell's former eye doctor, Dr. Robert "Bob" Rudge sent me an e-mail this week informing me that his wife, Nancy, happened upon my Two Ruth's column from March 23 (published September 13, 2014 on this blog) that mentioned a recipe for Chicken Cashew Casserole by Ruth DeMarco.

"I went to Cambridge High (1944) with a Ruth Campbell and thought it would be quite a coincidence if this is the same one that provided a recipe that may 'grace' the table of one of her 'old' classmates," he wrote.

Yes, Dr. Rudge, son Steve confirmed that Ruth Campbell DeMarco also graduated from CHS in 1944.

Dr. Rudge fitted me with my first pair of eyeglasses ever in the 1980s.

Nancy was the pianist and organist at the Caldwell United Methodist Church, where I became a member in junior high.

It is a small world.

Originally published on April 6, 2014; reprinted with permission from the publisher of the newspaper where I used to work.



Saturday, September 13, 2014

Revival of Vintage Family Fixin's

Early this spring I started a recipe column in the local newspaper where I worked. I called it Vintage Family Fixin's. I wanted to offer readers a recipe - or two - from the recipe boxes of my late grandmothers. In doing this I recalled stories about these women, and other members of my family, and found that sharing those memories with an audience resulted in letters and telephone calls from those who knew them.

It was the beginning of a great journey for me that ended too soon. After the publication of only five columns, I suddenly lost my job due to an error in a headline that had nothing to do with the recipe column.

I did not have an opportunity to tell any of the readers about my sudden departure or my blog but it is my hope that as I revive the recipe column maybe you will share this URL with someone who might find it interesting.

Over the next few weeks I will reprint all of the columns on this blog.
Here's the first one.


Vintage Family Fixin's

Two Ruths

Welcome to Vintage Family Fixin's.

Today begins with a story of discovery, a theme that has accompanied me through the past year (more about that in a future column).

My late paternal Grandmother Ruth (DeVol) McDonald's recipe box is much like my maternal Grandmother Janice (Day) Watson's attic -- full of unexpected surprises, coincidences or perhaps fate.

Looking through Grandmother McDonald's recipe box last week I ran across a dish called Chicken Cashew Casserole by Ruth DeMarco who in cursive wrote her recipe on a large index card that has two holes punched along the top. DeMarco, hmmmm, I know a DeMarco.


It just so happens that Ruth's son, Steve DeMarco, is a contributor to [the name of the newspaper where I used to work] of news concerning Cambridge Concert Association. We are periodically in communication as I am his contact at the newspaper. We also are friends on Facebook.

So it was a coincidence that my Grandmother McDonald, who died at age 68 on Jan. 20, 1989 -- six months before I came to work at the newspaper -- at some point and time during her life met Ruth DeMarco.

Grandmother McDonald resided in Caldwell and worked in the Auditor's Office and later Probate Court at the Noble County Courthouse.

Ruth DeMarco lived a very active life in Cambridge and passed away in 2008 at the age of 81.

The women were six years apart in age.

So how did Ruth McDonald know Ruth DeMarco?

"Her mother's maiden name was Riddle. So she has/had lots of relatives and friends in Caldwell and the area," said Steve of his mother.

Steve said of his mother's Chicken Cashew Casserole, "I make it often and it's very tasty!"

More meals from Noble County folk will be coming your way because in Grandmother McDonald's recipe box I found recipes from the old Ralston's (Pharmacy in Caldwell), the Club in Caldwell, and some of my grandmother's friends (Wanda Wheeler, Mary Jane Yontz) and my Grandfather Fred McDonald's sister Ruth Smith.

Plus you'll enjoy fixin's from my husband's late grandmother Bea Loos, plus some from my late birth mother Sandra (Watson) McDonald, my late aunt Peggy (Watson) Ruppel, and my mother who raised me Judy (Spitler) McDonald Behringer.

Today's featured recipe is from Grandmother Watson's recipe box. Grandmother celebrates her 88th birthday on March 25. Happy birthday, Grandmother! You are the best cook and I remember you making this soup for me. I'm so blessed to have you.

Grandmother Watson's Fresh Mushroom Soup recipe prepared by me.
Fresh Mushroom Soup

1 pound mushrooms

6 tablespoons butte or margarine

2 cups finely chopped onions

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 cup flour

1 cup water

2 cans beef broth

1 cup dry vermouth (optional)

1/2 tablespoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper
Chop mushrooms. In large pot melt butter. Add onions and sugar. Saute over medium heat, stirring frequently for about 15 minutes or until golden. Add mushrooms and saute for 5 minutes. Stir in flour until smooth. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour in water and smooth until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered 20 minutes.

P.S. I fixed this soup and my family liked it with the exception of Will, 13, who doesn't particularly like mushrooms. Lee, 11, said, "It's delicious."

Grandmother Janice Watson and me.


Ruth DeMarco's Chicken Cashew Casserole

1 (3 ounce) can chow mein noodles

1 1/2 cans cream of mushroom soup

1/2 cup chicken stock

1 breast of chicken (or 8 ounces of any cold chicken, more if desired (cooked chicken)

1/4 pound cashews, cut in quarters

1/2 cup celery, cut fine

1/4 small onion, cut or chopped

Dash salt and pepper

Set aside 1/2 cup noodles. In 1 1/2 quart casserole, combine the rest of ingredients. If cashews are not salted, add more salt. Sprinkle reserved 1/2 cup noodles over top. Dot with butter.

Bake 30 minutes in 325 degree oven.

Originally published on March 23, 2014; reprinted with permission from the publisher of the newspaper where I used to work.