Category Archives: spelunking/caving

Man of Steel, a teacher

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For Father’s Day, I always emphasize that there are many men

out there who act like fathers, do the job of fathers and need to be

remembered, thanked and hugged for their beyond the ‘call of duty’

efforts. What male role model do you think of “outside the box” who

played a valuable role and impacted your life during your formative

years?

I have a man in mind, who may or may not be alive, but he was

our Science Club counselor, leader and mentor. His name was

Mr. Bobniz! We had a motley crew with members that were very

strong, active participants in many activities and then there were

a few who probably joined because there was a genuine love and

acceptance theme going on. No one was excluded!

Mr. Bobniz overlooked rudeness, swearing and general rowdiness.

We all got together with him like a team, planned many wonderful

outings. We went to parks, creeks and streams. We rode our bikes

from the West side suburb of Bay Village, Ohio to Sandusky to put our

bikes on a ferry to Kelley’s Island. Where we saw the glacial grooves, no

drinking at the local winery, but lots of good, clean fun as getting away

from town and letting loose does for young teenagers!

We planned and connived Mr. Bobniz into getting some extra cash

funding to take us on a big trip to Mammoth Cave. Wow! We were so

excited! We were sure glad to go to the Health Museum, the Science

Museum and the Cleveland Zoo, but this trip would top all of them!

Yes, we were kind of “nerds” or “nerdy” and we had some kids in the

group who could join the actors and actresses in the television show,

“The Big Bang Theory” but we were leaving the state of Ohio! You can

imagine the kind of snacks, meals and money that we were needing

to embark on this trip. We were leaving early on a Saturday while

returning in our long caravan of cars with walkie talkies, on Sunday

afternoon. Only a couple of parents were coming as chaperones.

So fun you could explode with scientific facts about stalactites, stalagmites

and bat droppings!

I will never forget the silly antics of what  one motel room full of wild boys

who decided to collect our pop cans throughout the whole trip did.

After all, we were recyclers! We collected once a month newspapers and

magazines for the Science Club paper drives. Anyway, since there were

2 exits; one was a sliding glass door exit out of each room and the other,

a hallway door, this group of guys piled pop cans high into a tower by the

hallway door. They got a string, an apple and rigged it so that it would fall

when the door opened by the poor maid. We laughed about the stunt on the

the way home. Along with their catching what they thought was a live poisonous

spider, whether the brown recluse or the black widow, I cannot know, and

putting it under one of the glasses in the bathroom. (Side note, remember when

motels had real glasses and not paper, plastic or styrofoam cups?)

Mr. Bobniz was a hero. He was a teacher, friend and most of all, he

played Father to us during some of the wildest sober times teens could

have. As far as we know, he never married. And we are not sure about

his sexual preference, he never mentioned partners, dates or either

women friends or male friends to us. He listened to our little quarrels,

our numerous complaints about school politics and the “establishment.”

If you grew up in the seventies or even, the eighties you can relate to all

of that. I know Viet Nam existed on our t.v. sets every night while we ate

dinner. But these carefree and innocent Science Club moments are worth

mentioning and remembering.

Thank you, Mr. Bobniz!

I am not sure if you ever were chosen but better late than

never:

You deserve Teacher of the Year award, 1974!

Lighter hearted topic: My month with 3 Dan’s!

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Last year right before I started blogging, I met three Dan’s.

My grandkids made up little chants, “Dan, Dan, the bike shop

man” for one. “Dan, Dan, the motorcycle man” for another. And

the third one we could never quite figure out what would be a good

little way to include his diverse thinking and interests.

Anyway, I met Dan who owns a bicycle shop in a nicer suburban area

at a park with his nephew and niece. He was pushing them on the

swings on a particularly warm late winter day. He started asking me

about my grandson, who I was pushing, who was three years old. I

told him he was my grandson and he was sweet enough to say I looked

“too young” to be a grandma. Micah told him, “She’s not my grandma!

She’s my Nana!”  We all laughed.

I am going to fast forward to where I am giving him my cell phone number

and he was going to call me. We ended up having one nice date. He was

also a big caller that month. We never finalized a second date, but I have

to admit I found out through a long phone conversation, he was a seriously

religious man. He also was not in the same frame of mind about politics as

I am. Dan was a nice man, but I am going to have to say I ‘blew him off’ by

being busy. I won’t call him a ‘holy roller,” but he was definitely more than

I could handle in that area!

The second man, Danny, I met downtown in my small town at a local

watering hole. It is so small, it takes “cash only!” He was younger, wearing

a black leather jacket and had a quiet nature. I did enjoy some casual dates

and our best but craziest date was going on his motorcycle all the way to

Old Man’s Cave in Logan, Ohio. I will tell you that is about a 3 hour drive

one way! One funny (now) thing that happened that killed my interest in

EVER going on a motorcycle again was while we were driving through

Nelsonville. I saw a swarm of insects, I thought, coming our way, but

guess what? They were bees!! And 3 bees were inside my helmet and while

I was tapping and tugging on Danny’s jacket trying to get him to stop

the motorcycle. He waited until he saw a little park, driving straight to

a rest room area. I could understand he thought that is why I was so

strenuously trying to get him to stop! But I was stung by those darn 3 bees!

He saw the red marks on my face and my tears as I took my helmet off. He

felt so bad and we did have some fun finding an ice cream place to cool my

face off. We also walked a bunch of times after that but I found out he was

into smoking pot and I realized I was a little too old for that again!

The last Dan, the one who is hard to label but I called him “Daniel” because

of his serious nature and so I could differentiate my strange month of dating

the 3 Dan’s. I am not making this up and if you ever were to come to Ohio,

to my town, I would have one of my three kids tell you, “Mom is not making

this stuff up!”

Daniel was out on a path in a woods that is by Blue Limestone Park in Delaware,

Ohio when I met him. He was hiking with a backpack, had a water bottle in his

hand and was holding a weird tool in his hand. I saw him from a distance and

believe it or not, I turned around and decided to retrace my steps on the path.

I did not know what or why he was looking downward nor why the tool, he

was a little off the path, and I guess I could have passed him, but my better

instincts were carried out. As I started to increase my pace going back to

where there were fishermen and the playground where plenty of parents

were supervising children, I heard him call my name! I slowly turned and

saw still an unrecognizable man. But I did stop to listen to how he knew me.

Daniel’s father had been in the nursing home I worked at for 4 years, one of

my many odd jobs in my pursuit of my final teaching job. He said I had been

a “lifesaver” for his Dad, a volunteer we called “Sarge.” And, I responded by

saying, “How do you know me and I don’t recognize you? I do remember your

father and mother, Alice, too.” He said he had stopped by one time at his Dad’s

house after Alice, his mother died and seen me getting into his Dad’s car. He

said he also had seen a picture I had painted in his Dad’s den, entitled “Alice’s

Garden.” Sarge would never take hand outs for our activity trips, if there was

a charge like for going to the Clippers baseball game, he paid it. So, after talking

to him a lot after Alice died at the nursing home, I had suggested he come volunteer

and also, that I would like to do a painting as a gift. He said, “make a beautiful

garden please where my wife in Heaven is taking care of it. You know she was

my angel.” Daniel was a coffee shop worker, a spelunker, and an Indian relic

seeker. He showed me one time cases of Indian arrowheads. He was and is a

very good friend. He has moved into my apartment building and we talk about

once a week. Although we decided to not date, we have an affinity for the memory

of his parents. He has listened to my stories of dating, my father’s death, and

my children’s lives. Strange but we just feel like “brother and sister.” Good friends

are always needed! Never can have too many.

That is the end of the month of Dan’s where only one remains in my life.

When Bill Makes His Subtle Opening

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Bill has sent me 2 emails and I have sent him 2 emails. It is like passing notes

still with our pieces of our life in short sound bites in the halls of work. He

finally after a couple of long weeks on my part, after I received his to my mind,

cryptic quote, emails me, “Would you like to meet on Sunday afternoon at Bob

Evans for coffee?”

He meets me in the parking lot, he chuckles deeply almost like Santa Claus. He

is medium built but a deeper more heavy voice. He and I walk in, he asks for a

booth to sit at. He has 2 albums tucked under his arm. One he shows me of his

family and the sights of Eastern Kentucky. Another he opens and shows me

pictures of his caving days. I right away recognize 2 men he is with in the pics.

I worked for 4 years at a nursing home, activities director, he has pictures of one

of the widowers that I met who volunteered with, his 2 sons are Bill’s caving buddies.

We look at a lot of caves in Carter County, Kentucky. I enjoy his stories. We don’t

cover much of my ground but it is important to listen, too.

Bill tells  me he likes to paint and play guitars. He is a very well-rounded person, with

lots of interests. Now, another surprise! Two of his children knew my older two kids.

I used to drop my kids up at a house in Prospect, Ohio and they would camp out. There

were several of my older kids’ friends who played guitar, Bill kind of tutored them and

sat around the campfire singing with my kids. Small world, with now 3 connections

made.

I am not sure if we will be friends but I do want to know more about him and as time

will tell, we will begin a good friendship, with many journeys over about 4 years.

I will close this story since some of it is sad, we tried to be more than friends but really

had few personal connections. We were polar opposites in the way we approached life,

family and interpersonal relationships. He tried to be more open, but he was a person

from childhood on, that brooded and thought more than wanting to solve and connect

with people, his ex-wife and mother of 5 children in particular. With me, he could not

understand the need to talk things out, why? he kept asking. Accept our differences, but

he would get upset and then in long days’ worth of silence he would touch base again.

I think he was a great friend to my daughter, still remains a good friend of mine. When

the chips are down or things go wrong, I need to make sense of them, and in our family

we communicate whether or not it is pleasant or right.

The Man Who Knew My Daughter First (Bill)

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During the course of my youngest daughter’s pursuit of money and her future,

she often worked at a wide variety of restaurants and a country club. She is

a social and interactive young person, so her work was quite lucrative. She also

felt close to some of her customers. No one was as close to her over the year she

worked at Bob Evans than a man named Bill.

She would talk to him about her courses, her books she read, her thoughts and

plans. She would fill and refill his coffee cup and listen to him talk to her about

mainly philosophy and becoming a calm and centered adult. She was always

coming home excited about the new words (like Tao and Daoism) and especially

enjoyed the Eastern philosophies he espoused.

Bill became a person who we met once, while my ex-husband and I stopped by

for a meal. He seemed genuinely pleased to meet us and he shook both our

hands. He was wearing a Kentucky hat and that became another subject

entirely that my daughter would hear stories about. He loved to cave and he

was very happy when he was out hiking or in nature. This all seemed to fit

with his studies of philosophy, too.

Once my daughter left the restaurant, there became numerous times that she

would think aloud, “I wonder where Bill worked?’ or “I wonder if he is down

in a cave in Kentucky this summer?”

Later, while in college, my daughter again brought up Bill’s name, “I wish he

could meet my roommate who is from Kentucky.” When she traveled down to

visit Erin’s family, she went to Louisville and listened to some blues and jazz

bands. My daughter recalled Bill talking about music and that he played the

guitar. She called home and said, “I wonder what kind of music he played?”

In a particularly trying semester of Philosophy, my daughter brought up Bill’s

name in a question over the phone, “Do you remember Bill’s last name? I really

need to talk to him about this dumb course I am taking!”

It was different when I started my laborer job, not knowing how to relate to

people until at lunch a last name connected me to someone who was an aunt

of my oldest daughter’s friend. We had another person join our table a second

aunt of the same daughter. I felt comfortable talking to people in my bins order

filling group. I still would not have approached anyone outside our group or ask

any questions about other people.

But, as I would walk into work for first shift, I did notice a man with a Kentucky

hat on. He looked possibly like the man I would have met in 2000, eight long

years ago. So much had happened, as you may recall, losing a house, a husband

and a professional job. I started say, “Good morning!” or “Hello” to this man with

the KY hat just to see if he recognized me. He would greet me with a smile, a nod of

his head or a “Good morning!” back at me. Neither of us were yet aware of the fact we

did know each other.

One morning, a long line at the security desk with a man dumping out all his pockets

and still setting off the beeper,  was getting “wanded,” and behind me a voice yelled out,

“Jeesh, Bill,” and “Leave it to you to make us late, Bill!”

Little tumblers in my brain suddenly came into focus and I knew that was THE Bill!”

How small a world could it be? (to be continued…)