Category Archives: article

Celebrate life’s milestones as they happen

A memorable sunset.

By Bruce Stambaugh

Milestones. We all have them throughout our individual lifetimes.

These life events deserve recognition. There is no better time than the present to acknowledge and celebrate them as they occur.

The start of a new school year is such an occasion, and many of my friends on social media celebrated that event. Multiple posts of children and grandchildren heading off for the first day of school were shared.

I joined the party.

Our oldest grandchild is a child no more. Evan began his high school experience as a freshman recently. His younger brother, Davis, entered his first year in middle school as a sixth grader. Our granddaughter Maren started third grade at her elementary school.

Three students, three different schools, three different time schedules. That’s a family milestone with crisscrossing ramifications. Neva and I are glad we’re close by to help weave the way through that tangled web of unfolding activities.

granddaughter, granddog,

Observing the observers.

Disbelief overtook the significant adults in the lives of the three grandkids. How did we reach this place in time already?

Evan, Davis, and Maren just took it in stride as if it were just another day at school. Perhaps they are the wisest of the group.

With Labor Day upon us, I’m also reminded of the importance of vocational milestones. Being recognized for loyal service to a company for an extended period of time is an honor. Some businesses do a marvelous job of employee recognition while others not so much.

Knowing I had spent my first career as a public educator, a friend asked me about my favorite memories of school. Walking those school hallways for 30 years, I wasn’t sure how to answer at first. I had had so many enriching and endearing personal experiences that I hardly knew where to start.

The moon and Mars.

First of all, I loved my jobs as a teacher and then as an elementary principal. Both positions were most assuredly milestones on my timeline of life.

I remember the joy of watching my very first students file shyly into the fourth-grade classroom, unsure of how to react to their very first male teacher. Given the characters in that crowded classroom, it didn’t take long for their various personalities to emerge.

As a principal, the first day of school was a joy for me. Much of my energy and that of the support staff went into preparing for that day to ensure a smooth start to another school year.

As I reflected further, though, I realized that the most important milestones for me weren’t the first or last days of school. No, the many precious moments on particularly hectic, stressful days are what enriched my life the most. The significant memories for me were the touching ones. Gold watches can’t compete with group hugs from sweaty, sticky kindergartners returning from recess.

Anniversaries, birthdays, retirements, promotions, owning your first home, completing your first marathon race, competing in the special Olympics are but a few of society’s valued milestones. But for me, the most cherished ones can’t be memorialized in any material or monetary form.

Monarch butterfly

A Monarch butterfly making a fuel stop.

The milestones that mean the most are at hand in everyday life happenings that we all experience. A monarch butterfly refueling on a sunflower. The unexpected grasp of a child’s hand around your finger. The moment the full moon peeks over the horizon. A bright double-rainbow arched in the sky after a fierce thunderstorm.

These are but a few of the highlights that I cherish. What are yours?

© Bruce Stambaugh 2018

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I don’t know how she does it

By Bruce Stambaugh

August is rapidly coming to a close. For our family, that means that Neva is in her comfort zone doing what she does best.

Neva loves to help others. It’s in her DNA. In the fall, our daughter’s busy family becomes the center of our attention. In part, that is why we moved to the Shenandoah Valley.

Carrie is the women’s volleyball coach at Eastern Mennonite University. Her personal and professional schedules are head-spinners. Practices and meeting with players consume Carrie’s time. Once the regular season starts soon, it gets to be grueling.

canning

Neva spends much of her time in the kitchen preparing meals, frozen sweet corn, and applesauce for others.

Of course, our daughter has a family to care for as well. That’s difficult to do, even with a helpful and talented husband. That’s where we come in, especially my wife.

Before our move from Ohio’s Amish country to the Commonwealth of Virginia, Harrisonburg became our temporary home in the fall. Neva lived there August into November. I shuttled back and forth during those months as work duties called.

Now that we are retired and live just five miles away, we can quickly assist our daughter and her family. When it comes to Neva, “assist” is an understatement.

My energetic wife puts all she has into helping our daughter’s home run as smoothly as possible. It’s a must do situation with three active grandchildren and both of their parents working full-time.

creativity,

Neva added a repurposed screen door to a flowerbed.

With Neva taking the lead, my wife and I gladly step in to do what we can. Me? I do whatever I’m asked or told to do. If you are a betting person, wager on the latter.

Of course, the grandkids and our son-in-law all do their part. We fill in the gaps when work and school schedules preclude household chores being completed.

When it comes to domestic skills, I can’t hold a candle to Neva though. She plans and prepares family meals. I set the table and clean up. Occasionally, Neva prepares food for the entire volleyball team. I’m the gopher. I go for this and go for that.

While Neva is cooking or cleaning or shopping, I might be running the oldest grandchild to the gym for workouts or picking up the middle grandkid from after-school activities or accompanying the youngest to her soccer practice.

See what I mean? All that coming and going keeps us active, energized, and helps us sleep well at night.

In addition to all of this activity, our son has taken a new job in a different state seven hours away from us. With Neva leading the way, we helped him ready for this significant transition in his life, too. We were glad to do what we could.

Why does Neva do all of this? It’s all she knows how to do. It’s how she loves. Her compassion manifests into tasty, nutritious meals, quality time spent sharing her gifts and wisdom with the grandkids, and a sense of security for our son, daughter, and son-in-law.

enjoying an evening

Every now and then, Neva takes a break.

I marvel at Neva’s determination, fortitude, skills, and drive to aid others. It’s definitely that time of year again, and we all reap the benefits of Neva’s generous gift of hospitality.

Our fall schedules are hectic to be sure. Neva and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

To paraphrase the late Arthur Ashe, we do what we can with what we have right where we are. At our age, at any age really, that’s all that can be expected. In Neva’s case, she exceeds any and all expectations.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2018

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Thanks for the award

I am both happy and honored to announce that this blog has been named one of the Top 50 Amish blogs. The award was bestowed upon me by Blog.FeedSpot.com, a content reader website.

When I viewed the other winners, I was pleased to be included in the list. After all, many folks blog about the Amish. The faithful followers of Roadkill Crossing recognize that I do indeed write about the Amish since my wife and I lived for all of our adult lives among the largest Amish population in the world. However, out of respect to the Amish, I have never claimed to write an Amish blog. I write about them and my experiences with the Amish.

Still, I much appreciated the recognition and am happy to share the award with my readers.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2018

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“The Post:” A personal review

I’ll begin with the disclaimers.

1. I am not a professional movie reviewer. In fact, this is my first ever written movie review. I didn’t read any of the reviews, professional or otherwise, about “The Post” before or after I saw it. I didn’t talk with anyone who had seen the movie before I saw it either. I went to “The Post” with only faint recollections of those days and the events that occurred decades ago in my formative years.

2. I have always had ink in my veins. Growing up in suburban blue-collar Canton, Ohio, a neighbor lady called me “The Beacon Journal” in honor of the respected Akron, Ohio daily. I took her title as a compliment. As a youngster, I was always the first to know what was going on in our busy neighborhood bursting with post-war children. When the siren at the volunteer fire station three blocks away sounded, I often was the first one to arrive, wanting to know what was burning. Careful to stay clear of the trucks, I’d follow them on my bike if I could or sneak a peek at the chalkboard inside the door to the firehouse where the info about the call was scribbled.

3. I majored in journalism at Kent State University, graduating a year before the infamous shooting. While there, I was both the campus stringer for The Plain Dealer, once the premier newspaper in Cleveland. I also was a student reporter for the Daily Kent Stater, a requirement for journalism majors. Kent State was a magnet for political activism in the tumultuous 1960s. It all swirled around me, a naïve, young student taking it all in one event at a time. I reported what I observed about student war protests and couriered photos and copy from Kent to Cleveland.

4. My first career spanned 30-years in public education in Holmes County, Ohio, filled with a dynamic mix of Appalachian and Amish/Mennonite cultures and their historical quirks. Still, I kept the ink in my veins flowing by serving as the information officer for local volunteer fire departments. I also continued to write feature stories for The Plain Dealer and local newspapers. I served as co-editor for 12 years for the magazine of the Ohio Conference of the Mennonite Church.

5. After retiring as a school administrator, I began using my journalism background full-time by serving as public relations/marketing coordinator for a local retirement community and as a marketing consultant for an Amish-owned furniture business. And I have been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1999.

All this is to say that I had a personal and professional vested interest in “The Post.”

Whether Steven Spielberg, the movie’s director, used creative license in the storyline of “The Post” is insignificant. I can’t know if Ben Bradlee schmoozed with Jack Kennedy or not, or whether Kay Graham and Robert McNamara really were good friends. I didn’t research it. I didn’t even Google it. All I know is this: With marvelous performances by Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, “The Post” put the importance of our first amendment rights of a free press front and center. What was critical then is even more so today, especially given today’s tense political situation and a president who seems incapable of understanding or separating the roles and responsibilities of each branch of government and a free press to report to the citizenry.

Given my background, I know personally how important that Supreme Court ruling was. Justice Black’s words, speaking for the majority, reaffirmed my beliefs, my life as a tiny, trivial citizen in this fantastic country of ours. No president from Truman to Trump, no person or organization from Bannon to Breitbart, can silence the truth. If they do, our democracy is doomed. It’s that simple. To me, that was THE point. As the credits rolled at movie’s end, the memories were vivid, the emotions raw and real, and tears flowed.

After the movie, I sent a text to my son saying that “The Post” was the best movie I had ever seen. He thought that strong praise indeed. I explained by saying that it connected the dots of where we are today politically back to the Civil Rights/Vietnam era, the time that most formulated the person I am today. Watching those scenes, hearing those secret Nixon tapes, having all of those names come tumbling off the screen and into this 70-year-old brain somehow finally made it all make sense to me, brought me peace amid the chaos of where we are today. I felt fulfilled, closure, and hope all in one emotional release.

I have another disclaimer.

6. I was once mistaken for Spielberg in Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in Arizona. The person refused to believe my denial, and my companions couldn’t stop laughing.

Regardless of your politics, go see “The Post.” I hope it will set you free as it did me.

Bruce Stambaugh

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Moving to The Valley for the most important reason

Shenandoah Valley, sunset

The beautiful Shenandoah Valley at dusk.

By Bruce Stambaugh

My wife and I loved where we lived. We had spent our entire adult lives among the world’s largest Amish population in Holmes County, Ohio. Why would anyone want to leave that serene setting for the Shenandoah Valley?

Since we had visited The Valley several times in the last two decades, we could have provided numerous viable answers to that question. The picturesque mountains, the agrarian culture, the abundant natural beauty and recreational options, the rich history, the lively arts and educational opportunities all would have sufficed as legitimate reasons for new retirees to live in The Valley.

To us, however, those were all secondary benefits. Our move to Rockingham County was inevitable for one perfect, personal reason. Like so many retiring baby boomers, we wanted to be near our grandchildren in our senior years. We wanted to be close to them in their active formative years, and assist their busy household however we could.

little league baseball, grandson

Our grandson the pitcher.

We observed that we weren’t alone in relocating for that familial reason. We discovered many others either already had moved to the area or were going to do so. Grandchildren were important to them, too. That alone affirmed our decision to move.

Ironically, my older brother and his wife did the same thing for the same reason only in reverse. One month later, they moved from Williamsburg, Virginia to the exact same county we left in Ohio.

Before we pulled up roots, however, our daughter and her husband assured us that The Valley would remain their home no matter what path their careers took. With that, we moved to The Valley last May.

However, the planning and preparations began long before that. Before the move, we delved into the possibility of living in or near Harrisonburg. We spoke with friends who had already done so. Their advice was not to wait too long. The grandchildren grow up fast.

We researched the cost of valley living and discovered it was a bit higher than what we had experienced in Ohio. Housing was especially a concern. Our ever-alert daughter found a house in our price range that looked promising. Our real estate agent set up an appointment.

We liked the house and the location. We quickly agreed on a price with the owners. My wife signed the papers in a parking lot on the trunk of the realtor’s car late at night. Having gone home for some required monthly meetings, I signed electronically online, a new experience for me.

canning peaches, granddaughter

Our granddaughter helped with the canning.

We were in shock though. In our 46 years of marriage, my wife and I never had been spontaneous buyers. Here we were making the largest purchase of our lives only 48 hours after having seen the home.
Moving wasn’t an easy decision by any means. We thought long and hard about it. All the rest of our immediate family lives in Ohio, including our son. He gave us his blessing to move.

My wife and I were born and raised in Ohio. We spent our careers in public education there. We both served with several community organizations over the years. It wasn’t easy to let go of all of that.
To soften the change, we decided to deliberately take our time moving to the Shenandoah Valley. As quickly as we bought the house, we didn’t move in until 18 months later. My wife and I worked diligently for a year and a half to prepare for the move.

I’m glad it took us that long to transition from one place to the other. We didn’t want to merely cut and run from the people and place we loved. That interlude gave us the opportunity and space we needed to adjust to this major, life-changing decision.

Shenandoah NP, hiking

The exploring grandson.

We met with the local mover that we hired. A sincere young man, he clearly knew his business. We found the combination of his expertise and experience immensely helpful in deciding what to take and what to leave. Our Harrisonburg home was considerably smaller than the one in Ohio. We were downsizing after all.

We spent much effort sorting and packing clothing, furniture, and household goods. We found homes for family heirlooms that wouldn’t fit in our smaller Virginia home. We donated many items to a local thrift store. We also met with family members and close friends before we exited, often over meals. Relationships are worth more than any material item.

Between purchasing the house and moving in, we rented it to a family for a few months. After they left, we hired contractors to update the landscaping and the house. We wanted to put our own personal touches on the place to make it our own. The contractors were glad to have these small jobs during their usually slower winter season.

We’ve more than enjoyed our time in The Valley so far. We’re pleased that we took our time. Not everyone has the luxury of a slower moving transition like my wife and I did. But if you can, the benefits of taking your time can make it more than worthwhile. That’s especially true if you get to regularly enjoy your grandchildren.

grandkids, breakfast

Breakfast out with the grandkids.

This story appears in the current edition of Valley Living.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2017

Neva is my wife

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In honor of Father’s Day and catalpa trees

bloomingcatalpabybrucestambaugh

Blooming Catalpa Tree. © Bruce Stambaugh

By Bruce Stambaugh

I made a very revealing, personal discovery today. The 2014 calendar is identical to the 1947 calendar.

I know that’s not earth-shattering news. But it was for me. And it all started with me taking a photo of a blooming catalpa tree yesterday. I remember a story my late father once told me, one I have written about before, and will never forget.

Whenever the catalpa trees bloom in northern Ohio, Father’s Day is near. I had never paid much attention to that until Dad related his moving story.

On Sunday afternoons, my mother’s parents took turns visiting their three married daughters, all whom lived in Canton, Ohio. But on Father’s Day in 1947, Grandma and Grandpa Frith went to each of their daughter’s homes to visit. While sitting on our my parents’ front porch, Dad eyed a blooming tree down the street, and asked my grandfather if he knew what kind of tree it was. Grandpa Frith told Dad that it was a catalpa tree. Some people refer to it as the cigar tree, in reference to the tree’s long, green fruit pods.

The next day Grandpa Frith went to a job site where he was working as an electrician. He had turned off the power to do his electrical repairs when someone came along and turned the power back on. Grandpa Frith was killed instantly.

In retrospect, Dad said Mom, Aunt Gerry and Aunt Vivian were ever so grateful for that last visit they had with their father. They even wondered if it wasn’t simply meant to be.

I was born that December, never having met my grandfather.

Knowing that this Sunday, June 15 is Father’s Day, the exact same day as 67 years ago, seeing that blooming catalpa tree had even more meaning for me than ever before.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2014.

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Spying on the NSA

nsastationbybrucestambaugh

The NSA listening station near Sugar Grove, West Virginia.

Today bloggers around the world are protesting the unreasonable intrusions into our private lives, all in the name of national security that the NSA does daily to both U.S. and world citizens. I clearly understand that “they” have an important job to do in tracking down terrorists.

I communicate regularly with friends around the world via this blog, on Facebook, and by emails on personal matters with them. Not one of them is threatening to any government, anywhere. In fact, as a Mennonite, I am a non-violent person, and most of my writing is about or for citizens of the Amish community. We are people of peace, but we also want and enjoy our privacy as well.

Last fall, while visiting in Virginia’s beautiful Shenandoah Valley, I ventured up to Reddish Knob, a lovely location along the Appalachian Mountain range. From my vantage point, I noticed some large disks and several buildings in the valley to the west. I was told that was one of the NSA’s listening locations, near Sugar Grove, West Virginia.

Of course I did the obvious. I took some pictures of the facility. In effect, I was spying on the NSA. I’m sure I wasn’t the first, and clearly I gained nothing but a chuckle from the juxtaposition.

I understand that the NSA has a job to do. However, I hope that our right to privacy is soon restored since my friends, followers, and I have absolutely nothing to do with violence.

Grace and peace to all.

Bruce

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The Kennedy assassination: Recollections of a 15-year old 50 years later

I was in junior English class in the early afternoon of November 22, 1963. Jean Wood Giltz, our teacher, was in the midst of projecting one of her mesmerizing English lessons when, without any announcement, the room’s loudspeaker came on. She stopped her lecture and stared at the brown box high on the wall by the classroom door.

The class, 30 or so pimpled pupils, sat attentively in straight rows of desks and chairs so common in that educational era. We seemed as mystified as our astute instructor, who had the largest vocabulary of anyone I had ever met.

It was clear that the voice coming across the public address system was being piped through a radio. The announcer was describing details of a scene that made no sense. The students looked around in dismay, not that we were irritated that the lesson had been interrupted. But this noise was annoying, not only to us, but to Mrs. Giltz as well.

After less than a minute of this rattling on by the reporter, Mrs. Giltz asked Jimmy, a student who usually slept through her class, to go to the office to have the speaker system turned off. She figured that someone in the principal’s office had hit the wrong switch.

As Jimmy reached the door, the announcer said, “And repeating, the president has been shot.” The class immediately went silent. Without being told, Jimmy made a slow U-turn, and returned to his seat. He listened to the report trying to piece the fragments of information together like the rest of us. Mrs. Giltz slumped to her chair behind her big wooden desk.

The announcer went on reporting this breaking news from Dallas. Someone had shot the president and that he had been taken to a hospital. Little else was known.

As abruptly as the broadcast had been turned on to every classroom in the school of 1,200 students, the live feed was suddenly stopped after about 20 minutes. The principal’s voice replaced the reporter’s.

I don’t remember his exact words, only the message. Because of the national tragedy, school was being dismissed early. We went to our lockers, and filed out quietly to our buses. No one said a word.

When I left the school, all I knew was that President Kennedy was critically injured. We boarded the buses and headed out. Because I lived less than a mile from the school, my stop was the first. I rushed into the house, a small brick bungalow in Canton, Ohio, and turned on the black and white television. I tuned to Channel 3 to watch Chet Huntley and David Brinkley. Our family watched them faithfully as if they were relatives to be respected.

In that short timespan from school to home, the announcement had been made that John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States of America, had died. Huntley and Brinkley were visibly moved, and I cried, too. I couldn’t fathom why anyone would want to kill the president. He had projected so much youth and hope for the future. He loved the press, and held frequent press conferences, which were more like classroom discussions. He laughed and smiled, and tossed the football with family members. He had two small children and a beautiful wife who was shyly gregarious, unassuming, but confident and classy in her demeanor and dress.

I was crushed. We all were, even my father, who didn’t vote for Kennedy because he was a Catholic. Our cousins were Catholic and we would gather with them for Thanksgiving the very next Thursday. Yet Dad didn’t like the president because he was Catholic. I never understood his thinking in that regard. Never.

Initially, I was home alone. The rest of the family filtered in, my younger brother and two sisters from school and Mom and finally Dad came home from work. My older brother was at college. We were glued to the TV for any breaking news, just the way we had been a year earlier. We had watched together as the young president described the Cuban Missile Crisis to the country.

As scary as that event was, this was much worse. With the death of the president, it was as if the life had been sucked out of all of us.

We watched as Air Force One landed in Washington, D.C. later that evening. The casket was awkwardly lowered from the plane to a waiting hearse. I remember how Jackie had to literally jump down to the tarmac from the truck lift that carried the body of her husband. I thought that so thoughtless of those who were responsible for watching over such a graceful and gracious woman.

The shock of the assassination wore on us all. Without the instant communication of today’s world, we were dependent on the trusted news people of the time to keep us informed. Details of the shooting, the capture of Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin, and the funeral arrangements kept us in front of the TV. Commentators openly discussed how it was possible that Oswald could have done such a thing. Eyewitnesses declared there was a second shooter from the infamous grassy knoll. Everything was confusion.

The events of the next few days unfolded on the screen before us. A balm seemed to settle over the entire nation. Things got really complicated, confusing, suspicious, surreal, even though I didn’t know that word at the time. We watched live as Jack Ruby stepped right in front of the TV cameras and shot Oswald in the stomach as if it were a Hollywood movie. How did that happen? Why did that happen? How did Ruby get into the police station? Why did the police make Oswald so public, having him walk that gauntlet in the open?

The entire affair got more and more murky. What was going to happen next? I don’t remember being so much afraid as numbed by this ugly chain of events. Indeed, the lingering question was, “Were they connected?” I was a sad and confused young man.

Monday was a national day of mourning, with the funeral services, the walk to Arlington National Cemetery and the burial. Two images are forever fixed in my mind. One was little John-John, the president’s son, stepping forth and saluting the passing flag-draped casket pulled on a horse drawn caisson. The other was the line of world leaders walking along, heading the parade of mourners. I particularly remember Charles de Gaulle, the President of France, towering above the others.

Finally, it all got to me as an immature, naïve teenager. I couldn’t take the emotion of it all anymore. I called a few neighborhood friends, and soon we had a pickup game of touch football going in a neighbor’s field. It felt good to again feel good, to forget the troubles and trials of the world, and just play with kids your own age. The game meant nothing, and yet it meant everything. I don’t recall who won or what the score was. I just remember the relief of being young again with no cares in the world. And for the record, none of the dozen or so guys on the field with me even mentioned the events of the last few days.

Once the game was over, however, I dreaded going home. I knew it would be back to reality. The days of Camelot were over. It was a hard reality for a teenager to accept, and one I have endured but never forgotten for half a century.

Bruce Stambaugh
© 2013

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Early detection is critical for prostate cancer

By Bruce Stambaugh

I remember the exact time and place when I got the phone call that said I likely had prostate cancer. A biopsy three months later confirmed the preliminary test.

I wasn’t surprised by the news, but I was disappointed. I had hoped to avoid the disease that was in my family’s medical history. My father died of prostate cancer, and a year and a half before my diagnosis, my older brother had had robotic prostate cancer surgery to remove the cancerous prostate.

With this background, my doctors kept a close watch on my situation. When my Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) began to rise, my urology appointments went from annual to semiannual.

blueforprostatecancerbybrucestambaugh

Each September, the lamp in my office shines blue in honor of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

The PSA test, which requires a simple blood draw, has been the standard for monitoring a man’s prostate health. September is designated as Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, and having a baseline PSA score is an essential guide for healthcare providers to know their patients’ situations, according to the National Cancer Institute.

“Early detection is important,” said Dr. Timothy Coblentz, a urologist in Canton and a native of Holmes County, Ohio. “Men who are caught early with prostate cancer have very good cure results.”

Dr. Coblentz said the PSA screening is especially important for men ages 55 to 69. He said men with high risk factors of family history and race should also be screened beginning no later than age 40.

“There is no doubt that screening for prostate cancer saves lives,” Dr. Coblentz said. His practice is part of the Canton Urology Group, which hosts a prostate cancer awareness meeting on the second Tuesday of each month.

Luis Lacourt of Massillon, Ohio coordinates the group. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer at age 42, or as he puts it, “About 25 years before the average age of diagnosis.”

Lacourt also had a family history with the disease. His grandfather, father and uncle all had prostate cancer. At the urging of his father, Lacourt asked his family doctor to begin PSA testing to establish a baseline.

At age 40, he began seeing a urologist, who happened to be Dr. Coblentz. When Lacourt’s PSA score doubled in a year, the red flag went up. A biopsy confirmed his prostate cancer in May 2012, and a month later he underwent successful robotic prostate cancer surgery.

Lacourt, now 44, is a guidance counselor at Perry High School in Massillon. He is also an ordained minister.

“I believe that everything happens for a reason,” Lacourt said. “It became clear to me that prostate cancer awareness was something I could share as a positive influence to help others.”

With the assistance of a urology nurse with Dr. Coblentz, Lacourt began the monthly support meeting, which is open to all who have had or currently have prostate cancer. He said the emphasis is on sharing and learning, and recognizing that prostate cancer awareness is important.

Lacourt’s proactivity about prostate cancer began immediately after being diagnosed. He organized a Prostate Cancer Awareness night at a high school football game last October.

Early detection of prostate cancer was critical to me. Knowing the disease was in my family raised my risk of having it. However, my baseline PSA level was much higher than my brother’s. His spiked significantly in one year, the biopsy was done, followed by the surgery.

My PSA went up gradually. When it exceeded the standard threshold of 4, my testing and the exams increased, though I had no symptoms that anything was amiss. On May 12, 2011, I had my robotic prostate cancer surgery, and have fortunately since been declared cancer free.

supportgroupbybrucestambaugh

Having a support group to get through the various stages prostate cancer is important both emotional and physical health.

More than two years post surgery, I am doing very well, partly thanks to a support group of other men who have or are fighting the same fight. Kim Kellogg of Millersburg, Ohio invited me to the group. Kellogg was diagnosed with prostate cancer a year to the day ahead me.

“Having an advocate and being an advocate to others is really important before and after treatment,” Kellogg said. “Stay positive, be vocal, ask questions of the doctors and others who have had prostate cancer.”

Being able to share with a small group of others with prostate cancer has made the physical and emotional recovery from the robotic surgery much easier than trying to go it alone. Our group meets about once a month.

Statistically, one in six men get prostate cancer and 30,000 men die in the United States each year from the disease. Those figures alone drive prostate cancer awareness. Excellent resources about prostate cancer can be found from the Blue Cure Foundation and the One in Six Foundation. Both foundations provide excellent information on prostate cancer prevention, and resources for those diagnosed with prostate cancer and living with the disease.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2013

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The secret to great ice cream is no secret at all

d&bburgersbybrucestambaugh

One of the food trailers from which Dan and Anna Bowman serve their delicious ice cream. The Bowmans are Amish, so no pictures were taken of them.

By Bruce Stambaugh

When Dan and Anna Bowman crank up their ice cream machine each year in June, it doesn’t take long for a line to form. Their ice cream is that good.

The Bowman’s operate under the business name of D and B Burgers, Fredericksburg, Ohio. Don’t let the name deceive you. They serve up lots more than tasty burgers. Their menu includes offerings for breakfast and lunch, and of course, fresh and delicious soft serve ice cream.

When asked what the secret was to their yummy ice cream, Dan didn’t hesitate to answer, though what he said may come as a surprise. His modest answer reflected his daily demeanor.

“We use the same commercial ice cream mix as several others in the area,” Dan said. “Fresh and clean is a very good combination for good tasting ice cream.” By that he meant that he keeps the soft serve ice cream machine cleaned on a regular basis.

“You can’t keep ice cream mix in too long,” Dan said. “You can only go about two days before you have to sanitize the machine.”

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The twist soft serve ice cream cone is a hit with the Bowman’s customers.

Dan said that if the ice cream sits in the well of the machine too long it gets gritty and sour. To ensure freshness, he even cleans off the dispenser to eliminate any chance of anything less than fresh being dispensed.

To keep it clean, he and Anna completely take the machine apart to clean, a process that takes an hour. The machine gets thoroughly cleaned with the manufacturer’s recommended cleanser, rinsed, dried, and reassembled.

Dan and Anna sell three flavors of soft serve ice cream, chocolate, vanilla and twist. They serve their ice cream in cake cones, cups and sundaes.

“The raspberry sundae is the favorite of customers,” Dan said. Of course, the topping is homemade by Anna.

Again, they said there is no secret to that success. Freshness makes the difference here, too.

“I just add a little sugar to the berries and turn on the blender,” she said. They offer red, black and purple raspberry.

Dan said there are four or five ice cream mixes that he could choose from in the area.

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Anna’s homemade raspberry sundae topping is very popular with customers.

“I use a mix from a local dairy for consistency and freshness there, too,” Dan said. He buys the mix through the Country Mart in Mt. Hope, Ohio. The mix is a liquid that is poured into the vat of the tabletop ice cream galvanized machine.

“We have people tell us that our ice cream tastes better than others,” said Anna. “But we use a commercial mix just like the others.”

Dan said censors on the machine tell him when the ice cream is getting low.

“That’s why we never run out of ice cream,” Dan said. “It only takes about five to 10 minutes before the ice cream is ready to be served.”

Dan said they average about 25 gallons of ice cream per day during the peek time of June to October. Dan and Anna’s stand, which he affectionately refers to as the wiener wagon, can be found at the Mt. Hope Auction during special events like horse sales. They also do some special sales and auctions.

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The ice cream mix gets poured into the machine, vanilla on one side, chocolate on the other.

The best chance to catch Dan and Anna is at the Farmers Produce Market on State Route 241 a mile west of Mt. Hope June through October when ice cream is served beginning at 10 a.m. The stand, however, opens around 8 a.m. when buyers and sellers start to arrive. D and B Burgers serves breakfast and lunch sandwiches, side dishes, donuts, cookies, candy and hot and cold drinks.

The produce market is affiliated with the Mt. Hope Auction, and Dan and Anna provide food there February to November. During the summer months, the auction runs four days a week, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

“We are very thankful to Steve and Jim Mullet for allowing us to operate at their sales,” Dan said. “My business would not be without the Mullets.”

D and B Burgers operation has been operating for 13 years. They now use two food wagons. One is stationed at the produce market most of the year.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2013

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