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What a thrill for me and Mrs. Johnson

By Don Hohler • May 8, 2019 at 12:00 PM

Remember the likeable George Phillips who ran the Sohio Station on the bottom of the Benedict.

Truly a friendly guy who probably had service station customer-base better than any other in the city. I happened upon an ad that Mr. Phillips ran in the Sept. 24, 1953 edition of the paper explaining that he had served his faithful for 16 years and was turning the business over to Bob Johnson with the hope that his customers would continue to make their fuel and service stop with the equally-personable new lessee.

I knew Mr. Phillips quite well but knew Mr. and Mrs. Johnson even better. When I was a fire inspector (and a sportswriter), I made frequent stops at the Johnson’s bulk-fuel delivery business on the corner of Pleasant and Jefferson. It was the perfect stop for me to set down with a great couple and talk for a minute or two after an inspection. Realizing that I knew Jack Nicklaus, Mrs. Johnson told me that even though she never hit a golf ball in her life, she was Jack’s biggest fan.

I got to thinking after I left how nice it would be if I could get Jack’s autograph on a Memorial Tournament Starter Sheet and give it to her. I knew that could happen but when an even better situation presented itself, I managed something very, very few Nicklaus fans ever managed to pull off.

A bunch of us writers were in the press tent at Muirfield and Jack had just delivered his “State of the Tournament” talk. We all got a sleeve of golf balls from the great man and I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be great if I could get him to sign one of those golf balls for Mrs. Johnson.

Jack was doing an interview and I could see he wanted “to keep walking” as many of the pros do when they are off the course. I shoved the ball and a black marker at him and he never hesitated, taking both, signing the ball and kept on walking. I said thanks and I’ll never forget his answer “No problem.”

Now if you knew Jack Nicklaus back when he was winning one major after another, he was a mighty aloof sports star. For him to say. “No problem” only complimented the fact that this golf ball was going to one of his special fans.

I presented the ball to Mrs. Johnson and she was elated. I am told it was proudly displayed on the mantel in the living-room of their home.

And I might add one more thing, in all my times around Jack Nicklaus, I have never seen him sign a golf ball. He has probably signed programs and maybe even a glove if he hit a person in the gallery. But, never a golf ball.

I wonder where that ball is now?

New Hudson Jet

Just under the George Phillips ad was one that introduced the new Hudson Jet-Liner. The car is said to bring new concepts of luxury and fine craftsmanship to the auto industry. It has a step-down design to an interior that is finished in antique-white Plasti-Hide with contrasting bolsters of red, blue and green. It is said to have an instant-action engine with Super Induction that develops from 104 to 114 horsepower, depending on choice of equipment. The price, out-the-door, $3,400.

Truckers Debut

It was not the kind of season debut Grant Walls had in mind when his Truckers were handled fairly easy in a pre-season scrimmage with Port Clinton. But things would improve.

The coach named both his reserve and varsity candidates the night of the preview.

The varsity players would include Ward and Ralsten at the ends, Lane and Hunter at the tackles, Wilkinson and Leidorff at the guards and Witter at center. The quarterback is Spettle, the halfbacks are Lawrence and Colvin and the fullback is Luxon.

The reserve team includes Miller, Naley and Zink at the ends, Murray and Walls at the tackles, Rogers and Chapin at guard and Bill Zureich at center. The quarterback is Beach, the halfbacks Munson and Heaston and the fullbacks Trace and Jim Zureich.

And the Truckers did turn it around, doing so in their second game against Crestline. winning 35-0. Jim Spettle and Dean Colvin scored twice as the Truckers out-rushed the Bulldogs 289-105.

Flyers Go 2-2

Elyria Catholic was anything but gracious hosts in both teams’ season debut. St. Paul had hoped for better in playing with the Lorain County team the previous year but this one was lop-sided, 20-0 and on top of that Bill Mazacco watched as three starters, halfbacks Dick Rupp and Al Gamble and end Ralph Shoemaker, were helped off the field.

It did get better though as St. Paul beat the Pilgrims from Plymouth (That was their nickname.), 37-0 in the second game. Quarterback Jim Seitz threw two TD passes to Jim Berry and handed off to both Joe Sullivan and Dick Simon for two others. Simon scored a second time and Dale Shelley added a sixth score.

The Flyers then bested highly-touted Dennison St. Mary’s 12-7 at Whitney Field in the third game, scoring the winning points with four minutes left in the game on a 79-yard pass-run play from reserve quarterback Bob Brown to Dick Simon.

It was back to the drawing board, however, after the Saints lost 6-0 to Margaretta. One of five St. Paul fumbles, this one in the third quarter, was turned into the only points of the game. It was a turnover disaster for Mazacco’s club as they lost five fumbles and was intercepted four times.

The Flyer starters were Berry, Pigman, Simon, E. Franklin and P. Ebert at the ends, Weisenberger, T. Berry, Shoemaker and C. Franklin at the tackles, Obringer and Rospert at the guards and Stoll at center. The back were Brown, Shelley, Sullivan, Myers, Gamble and Rupp.

Zorge returns

Les Zorge, who coached at St. Paul the previous season, brought his Lorain St. Mary football team to New London and man-handled the Cats, 46-18. This win came one year after New London put it to the Lorain club, 52-0.

The Randleman boys did the best they could for the host team as Clint scored twice and Billy once.

Vows said twice

Two weddings on the society page. The first was on Saturday, Sept. 12 when Patricia Jean Widman was united in marriage with Marine Corps Cpl. Ronald W. Albright. Her attendants were Beverly Eaton, a cousin, and Mrs. Leon Lodermeier, her sister. the matron of honor.

The best man was Vernon Tidswell and while Gene Widman and Richard Sisson were the ushers.

The couple honeymooned in Daytona Beach.

The second wedding story was that of Marcia Weidinger and Thomas Nickoli. It also was performed by Rev. Hilary Weger.

The bride’s attendants were Marilyn Nickoli (Maid of Honor) and Sandra Carvey (Bridesmaid) while the groomsmen were Lawrence Nickoli, Jr. (Best Man) and Victor Nickoli (Usher).

The couple headed north on their honeymoon.

Bowling scores

The Monday Night League on Seminary Street brought together almost all of Norwalk finest bowlers. Here are the names and scores:

600 Series-R. Goul 685.

200 games-R. Goul 218, 232, 235, Meagrow 203, 213, Slota 203, Brown 209, Zink 209, Bick 208, McChesney 220, Knoll 241, Laurencelle 244, Amato 236, Crow 222, Bellamy 201, Edwards 212, Haynes 202, Ringholz, 203, 213, Chamberlain 230, McCrann 210, Sabol 201, Mellinger 200, 212, Spettle 213 and Jarden 209.

Aunt Jemima in town

Wearing her beaming smile and carrying her noted pancake recipe, Aunt Jemima was on hand to make her famous pancakes at Schild’s Food Town on Sept. 19, 1953. The tasting was free. The boxes of her Ready Mix were not. They were prices three for 50 cents. Same price for the 1 1/4-pound boxes of Buckwheats.

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