Tag Archives: The Plain Dealer

Summer weather in Ohio is as variable as life’s events

flower garden

Summer bouquet. © Bruce Stambaugh 2015

By Bruce Stambaugh

After another wonderful summer day with partly sunny skies, pleasant temperatures, light breezes and little humidity, I’m watching the rain pour down.

It’s July. It’s Ohio. It’s the way weather happens here.

After the harsh winter and cool, damp spring, we were ready for an old-fashioned summertime. To be clear, that meant nothing but clear skies and warm sunny weather through September.

Of course, that never really has happened, never will. But we can dream can’t we?

The truth is we need to be honest with ourselves about summer weather in Ohio. We can have good days, better days, and then there’s the rest. Some of Ohio’s summer weather can be downright nasty, if not hazardous.

The consequential weather can be fearsome, and put a kink into your best-laid plans. A picture perfect day can morph into our worst nightmares. Tornadoes, hail storms, damaging thunderstorm winds are among the wicked weather menu options.

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The July 1969 flood comes to mind. I didn’t live in Holmes County then. Still, the storm was widespread, and I saw damage and destruction. I was an intern reporter for The Plain Dealer in Cleveland. I headed to the Chautauqua Institution near Jamestown, New York for the holiday weekend.

I didn’t stay long. All the activities got rained out. On the way back to my apartment in a western Cleveland suburb, I passed several ConEdison power company trucks in New York heading west on the interstate.

I stopped at the newspaper on the way back and saw photos of boats being bashed against the rocky lakeshore. Power was out in much of the Cleveland area, including my neighborhood. In fact, one of those ConEdison trucks that I had passed was parked in front of my apartment.

Powerful winds drove the pouring rain right through the old, thick brick walls of our building. Huge trees snapped in a nearby park, and teenagers directed traffic at busy intersections.

Six weeks later I saw the damage done in Killbuck, my new home. Folks were still trying to recover from the devastating flood that touched nearly every building in the creekside town.

Weather is to be both appreciated and respected when it interrupts our human plans. When we hear thunder, we need to take cover. Avoid those treacherous floodwaters and find another way around.

Click on the photos to enlarge.

As a weather buff, I cringe when I hear of people being struck by lightning playing golf or baseball, and when I learn of youngsters being swept away playing in swollen streams. Those are sad stories that need not have happened.

Weather is a lot like life, isn’t it? A wise Amish farmer once told me, “We just have to take whatever weather comes our way.” I think that philosophy applies to other aspects of our lives as well.

How do we respond when one of life’s happenings strikes us like a lightning bolt?

A surprise medical diagnosis by the doctor, an unexpected budget-breaking bill, a broken relationship, the death of a loved one can all wash over our emotions like a flash flood.

It’s summer in Ohio. Not every day will be sunny, nor will everything that happens to us be fair. We can’t change the weather, and sometimes can’t even alter our personal circumstances.

What we can do is keep on hoping for sunny summer days. It won’t be all cloudy and miserable forever.

It’s July. It’s Ohio. It’s the way weather and life happen here.

Summer sunset

Summer sunset. © Bruce Stambaugh 2015

© Bruce Stambaugh 2015

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Filed under column, history, human interest, news, Ohio, travel, weather, writing

Writing is my labor of love

By Bruce Stambaugh

I like to write. For me, it is a labor of love.

Writing takes time. It’s not physical labor, but it can be just as exhausting.

Sunflower at Marblehead Light House by Bruce StambaughTo report an accurate story, concentration and absorbing details and the setting are essential. Even more difficult is deciphering my scraggly handwriting afterwards. Trying to properly tell the story in an assigned number of words against a deadline adds to the creative challenge.

The good people of many of the events and stories I chronicle don’t necessarily crave the publicity. But they do appreciate the consideration, especially when they have put so much effort into their own work or hobby or community service. Those are stories worth telling.

Stambaugh family by Bruce StambaughOf course, when I write about my family, all bets are off. So far, though, I haven’t been barred from any family gatherings.

For the longest time, I thought everyone could write. I eventually discovered that most people don’t have my passion for writing.

I’m not bragging. I have much to learn in the writing field. In fact, I strive to improve my style, approach and content. This spring I attended three very different writing workshops in the space of six weeks. I was bombarded with helpful and practical information. The poets, columnists, scriptwriters and authors offered invaluable personal and professional tips.

The Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop held at the University of Dayton was incredible. Perhaps that’s because a huge majority of the hundreds of participants were women. They didn’t hold anything back, and we didn’t lack for laughter or levity. It truly was inspirational.

Batter up by Bruce Stambaugh
I realize I have several people to thank for teaching and encouraging me in my writing. Some were high school and college teachers. Most, like Hymie Williams, were practitioners.

Hymie was a sports writer for The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio. He and two news reporters anchored the paper’s Canton bureau. Out of the blue, Hymie called me one day to ask if I would be willing to fill in for him while he was on vacation. I was 16 years old then. Of course I jumped at the chance.

I had been sending Hymie and other local papers summaries of the Stark County Hot Stove League baseball games. Coaches called in the scores to our home since my father was the league’s secretary. I usually answered the phone and quizzed the callers for any significant details about the games.

I wrote up the results and next day looked for the story in the newspaper. I was heartened to see that the articles were consistently published with only minor changes.

I enjoyed my little stint as a sports reporter, especially since it was at the start of the high school football season. I had lots on which to report.

Light rays by Bruce StambaughThis opportunity heavily influenced my choice of a college major. I graduated with a degree in journalism, but quickly made a left-hand turn for a 30-year career in public education. When I retired, a newspaper came calling and the ink in my veins started flowing once again.

It is an honor and a privilege to be able to write a weekly newspaper column, this blog and other feature stories that shine the spotlight on deserving subjects. Their stories are refreshing, especially given all the negative news that dominates the national media. I enjoy sharing my photographs, too. But that’s a story for another time.

My goal is to continue spreading as much good news as I can, and there is still plenty to tell. After all, writing is my labor of love.

This column appeared in The Bargain Hunter, Millersburg, OH.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2012

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Filed under column, family, news, Ohio, photography, writing