Features

Dogman of Defiance

Cryptid Ohio

CRYPTIDS [crip – tidz]: Animals or other creatures whose existence is only assumed or believed in based upon anecdotal or other non-compelling evidence.

Since President Rutherford B. Hayes owned a Lake Erie island where his family vacationed, he quite possibly heard tales about South Bass Bessie. Maybe he even saw the creature (though he never reported it if he did). The Ohio native and his wife, Lucy, left the White House in 1881 and retired to a country estate that is now the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museums in Fremont.

Raymond Buckland

Cauldron of culture

Witchcraft imagery has long been a part of popular culture — cackling hags in black hats riding broomsticks are everywhere this time of year. 

The museum opened on West 14th Street in Cleveland’s Tremont district in 2017 and relocated to the current location in 2019. The 1,800-square-foot facility is jam-packed with artifacts from floor to ceiling with some 300 pieces on display at any given time. Every inch of wall space is covered, and the museum draws tourists from around the state and across the country.

Limestone obelisk marking Harrison’s tomb.

Eminent eight

Why is Ohio called the “Mother of Presidents”? Consider this: Since 1776, there have been upward of 500 million Americans; some 12,000 served in Congress, but only 44 have been sworn in as President of the United States.

Since 2020 is a presidential election year and the 100th anniversary of the last time an Ohioan — Warren G. Harding in 1920 — won the White House, it’s an especially good time to take stock of the state’s eminent eight. We hereby present a compendium of Ohio presidents that includes destinations where you can learn more about their rare and remarkable lives.

William Henry Harrison
9th President (1841) 

Born: 1773, Virginia 

Coach Andrew Ruffing

Win-win

After a long, demanding day at work as part of a line crew, some of our electric co-op team members tackle a different sort of assignment. Swapping their hard hat for a coach’s cap, they’re in for a whole new ballgame.

Andrew Ruffing, apprentice lineman at North Central Electric Cooperative based in Attica, sees many similarities between his day job and coaching football. “You’re part of something bigger than yourself. That resonates in both sports and linework,” he says. “You learn to work as a team, to work toward a common goal.”

Drive-in movie theater

Retro cool

Back in their heyday, drive-in movie theaters meant parents could pile the kids in the back of the station wagon and head out to see a flick on a nice summer night, hooking the scratchy metal speaker on the car window, collecting popcorn and Cokes from the concession stand, and maybe playing a few holes of mini-golf to boot … all without making much of a dent in the pocketbook. 

Museum display

Good golly, Miss Molly!

As vice president of education and visitor engagement at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Jason Hanley often observes the museum’s visitors.

The Rock Hall was the first museum dedicated to rock ’n’ roll, and its opening on Sept. 2, 1995, in a glistening I.M. Pei-designed building along Lake Erie, was a landmark event for popular culture. “It was truly significant,” says Hanley, “because rock music was being recognized, preserved, taught, and honored in a way traditionally reserved for high art forms.” Rock ’n’ roll’s royalty — think James Brown, Bob Dylan, and Aretha Franklin — showed up and celebrated with epic performances in Cleveland’s old Municipal Stadium. “We occasionally show that concert in the Rock Hall’s theater.

Jason Duff

Renewal and restoration

Jason Duff stood in the middle of the crumbling, mostly abandoned downtown area of his hometown, Bellefontaine, and saw what everyone else saw.
 

Unlike many others, though, he was able to look past the despair and see potential. Instead of heading to the brighter lights of bigger, more prosperous Midwestern cities, Duff decided to make a difference. He enlisted friends who shared his vision and his can-do attitude — along with plenty of talents and skills — and built a team to rebuild and revive their hometown. 

Auto race at airport

Little island, big race

Years ago, Lake Erie’s South Bass Island was abuzz with fast, exotic imports once a year for a decade.

“I certainly hope it goes forward, because we’re planning for it,” says organizer Manley Ford (who drives a 1952 MG TD). “There’s always a lot of excitement, and we’ve already got quite a few registered.”

Ritz Theater

On with the show

Ghosts in McConnelsville. Windmills in Bellefontaine. A Venetian courtyard in Tiffin. Fleur-de-lis flourishes in Marietta.

The theaters’ ornate interiors mimicked Italian piazzas and art deco architecture, Grecian ruins, and Spanish courtyards. They often created the sense of being outdoors, with painted clouds and twinkling electric “stars.”

Many of the extravagant theaters eventually fell into disrepair as downtown venues were abandoned in favor of shopping mall-based cinemas, while others met their demise in the form of a wrecking ball.