Features

Paul Brown: Gridiron Great

Cleveland native and Hollywood actress Patricia Heaton of Everybody Loves Raymond and The Middle once told a joke about pro football coach Paul Brown: “A football player died and went to heaven.

The joke slyly illustrates the enormous impact and legacy Paul Brown had on the game of football. Pre-Brown, it was characterized mostly by brute force, with little intellectual finesse. Brown’s genius for innovation transformed it into the mental and analytical game that it is today. 

Inside The Anchorage

Haunted Marietta

Did you hear that?” my daughter, Rosie, asks as we climb a wooden staircase in the Anchorage, a former mansion on the outskirts of Marietta, in southeastern Ohio. “It sounded like a low grumble.”

History and hauntings

A healthy respect for the “other side” is well advised during a visit to Marietta, which dates to 1788 as the first permanent settlement in the Northwest Territory. History and hauntings go hand in hand here, as the city’s storied, well-preserved past provides ghosthunters a spooky year-round playground.

Black Widow Spider

Creepy crawlies

Glacial ice and black widow spiders in Ohio — there’s a relationship. 

Several species of widow spiders exist in North America, and Ohio has two of them: the Northern Black Widow and the Southern Black Widow — and the fear that we hold in our hearts for both of them is rational and deserved.

Ground Zero at World Trade Center Tower South

The day that changed the nation

At the Tiffin Police and Fire All Patriots Memorial, a daylong observance occurs on each anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.

The Tiffin memorial’s centerpiece is a 17.5-foot-long steel beam recovered from the World Trade Center. It weighs more than 3 tons and rests on a pentagon-shaped piece of granite that alludes to the strike on America’s military headquarters. Positioned at an angle of 9.11 degrees, the beam sits low to the ground so people can touch it. “When rust particles drop off that beam, they almost seem like tears,” observes Gosche.

Buckeyeman Larry Lokai

Superfan

Between Ohio State University football and agriculture education, Urbana resident Larry Lokai has been wholeheartedly living his passion for 23 years.

Now, as football season approaches, he’s ready to go all-in and plans to be there once again — a favorite of both fans and television cameras at the games. 

Along with the hair and face paint, Lokai’s Buckeyeman is best known for handing out buckeyes, the fruit of the Ohio buckeye tree. As he’s expanded the role, he says he’s handed out more than 1.8 million of them.

J.M. Smucker Company’s headquarters in Orrville, OH

With a name like...

Whenever merchandise manager Kate Fox welcomes tour bus groups to the J.M. Smucker Co. store and café, she asks visitors to guess Smucker’s first product. “Everyone always answers, ‘strawberry preserves,’” says Fox, “but the company actually started with apple butter.” 

Located near U.S. 30, the store sits along a rural road in Wayne County just minutes away from the J.M. Smucker Company’s headquarters in Orrville. The town’s population is less than 10,000, yet it’s home to a Fortune 500 corporation with some 7,000 employees who work in offices and manufacturing facilities spread from Quebec to California. Why Orrville? In 1897, local farmer Jerome Monroe Smucker opened a cider mill there and began making apple butter from concentrated cider.

The HardTackers, a sea shanty singing group

HardTackers: A decade-long journey of seafaring lore

Ohio is the only state in the union with a burgee flag — a shape usually associated with a boating organization.

Shanties date to the mid-1400s era of tall ships, when sailors’ work was grueling and labor-intensive. The rhythms of the call-and-response style of shanty songs helped the crew push and pull, hoisting sails and hauling lines in a synchronized effort. Often adapted from familiar folk tunes and ballads of the day, shanty lyrics were flavored with nautical terms and names of places the sailors had been — or hoped to see. ]

Ohioans enjoy nighttime kayaking at High Rocks Adventure

After dark

As twilight comes, the rugged cliffs, crevices, and outcroppings at High Rocks Adventure add a sense of mystery to what’s already an adrenaline rush. 

Night rappels are trips into the unknown. “You can’t see the bottom of the cliff, so there’s a lot of trust needed,” says Kayce, a member of South Central Power Company. Sometimes, the trust pays off with even more thrill — one time during a solo rappel, with her headlight turned off, 
a screech owl’s wings brushed silently past her face.

Riding the Miller Ferry with Mitten Kitten was on Lindy Brown’s bucket list, as is evident in this ferry cool selfie.

Silver bullet

Wally Byam’s childhood was spent immersed in nature. He worked on a West Coast sheep farm, where he lived in a donkey-towed wagon that was outfitted with a stove, food, water, and just about everything else he could possibly need. 

Byam’s love of camping and the outdoors, combined with American ingenuity, resulted in a product that lasts for decades and is instantly recognizable around the world.

Perhaps best of all, it’s made in Ohio — Byam moved the production to Jackson Center in rural Shelby County right after World War II, and workers there build upward of 120 of the iconic silver bullets every week, all by hand.

Surfing lessons on the coast of the Great Miami River

Surf's up

Downtown Dayton is your typical urban Midwestern city, filled with blacktop and busy streets, high-rises, and noisy traffic.

But wait: There are also surfers, who are apt to be happily catching a wave out on the water.

River surfing is similar to ocean surfing, but instead of catching waves caused by the wind, it’s done on standing river waves created by flowing whitewater.

“It’s a rush,” says Shannon Thomas, a Dayton native and pro river surfer and paddleboarder. “Anyone who has surfed knows that special feeling you get when you’re on a wave. It’s amazing; very spiritual, very addictive.”