You probably know that Ohio’s state bird is the Cardinal and its state tree is the Buckeye.
But do you know Ohio’s state rock song?
If you were a teen in mid-1960s Southwest Ohio you’ll recall the lyrics as if you were listening to your favorite DJ on WSAI-AM Cincinnati or WING-AM Dayton.
Here are a few hints:
It debuted on August 14, 1965, topping the pop charts the following October. After only one week it was knocked off its high perch by the Beatles’s “Yesterday.” (1)
It was a heartfelt love song to a girl whose life was anything but happy. (2)
The composer was Rick Derringer. The song was first recorded by the McCoys of Dayton. (2)
It was “Hang On, Sloopy.”
The lyrics and music will now linger in your mind the rest of the day…
Just hang on.
1)”Hang On Sloopy, the History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Ohio” by Nick Talevski, Guardian Press, Ohio, copyright 2008- 2010. Available for reading in the MidPointe Library Middletown Ohio Room.
2)”It Happened in Ohio -- Remarkable Events That Shaped History,” First edition, by Carol Cartaino, Globe Pequot Press, 2010. Located in MidPointe Library Middletown’s Local History and Genealogical Gallery. Available for checkout.
This month MidPointe Library salutes the “Hometown Heroes” who have made our local communities even better places in which to live, work and play.
Question: How does a community turn tragedy into triumph?
Answer: When “Hometown Heroes” assist those in peril and their selflessness and courage help lead to the formation of a hospital where there was none.
Such was the outcome of one of the most tragic transportation disasters in the history of the greater Middletown, Ohio, area:
The July 4, 1910, collision of a freight train and a passenger train “just north of the West Middletown depot” that led to the deaths and injuries of numerous passengers in a city that “had no place to care for the injured. This tragedy inspired the drive locally for a hospital...” (1)
Local historians Roger L. Miller and the late George C. Crout recalled the catastrophe in their book, “Middletown Ohio,” part of the “Images of America Series”:
“...a passenger train on the Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton line drove head-on into a freight that was backing into a siding. The crash could be heard miles away, and Middletonians rushed across the bridge with rescue units…” (2)
They continued : “The wreck claimed 36 lives and 50 injuries. Since there was no local hospital, the injured had to be rushed to a Hamilton hospital...The wreck caused local residents to realize the need for a hospital, and this resulted in a drive for such a facility.” (2)
In her front page article in the July 10, 1960, Middletown Journal, writer Patty Mummert recalled the train disaster:
“...with the crash of the terrible impact, the grinding of iron and steel, the tearing of timbers (most the cars were wooden then), the hissing of steam and the wild shrieks of the wounded that rent the air, the horror of the situation may be better imagined than described…” (3)
“Two locomotives imbedded in each other -- torn and twisted masses of steel -- once powerful engines of motion, now mute and silent, told the story of the disaster… (3)
“Many of the victims were unidentifiable, and a list describing the dead was published, resulting in a flood of calls and letters from people scattered around this area…” (3)
In an accompanying article, “Those Who Saw Can’t Forget,” the hometown heroes who struggled to help the victims that Fourth of July recounted their sad, grim memories: (3)
“Those who saw and heard the crash ran wildly to the scene. Some ran for the telephone, and in a few minutes the news was ringing through Middletown, and doctors, undertakers, liverymen and apparently most of the population were hurrying to the scene… (3)
“The sight of the dead and the groans of the suffering made such a permanent impression in the minds of the onlookers that even after 50 years, details of the accident are still clear to them...” (3)
Three years later another disaster left the community reeling -- this time under water. The 1913 Flood “sent residents to Cincinnati and Dayton hospitals looking for help.” The devastation was further proof that the Middletown area desperately needed a hospital. (4)
Like those who ran to help train wreck victims three years before, local citizens stepped up to the challenge of acquiring a local hospital...once and for all.
“...Community leaders led the drive to ensure Middletown had its own hospital…. Three Middletown families -- the Verity family, Gardner family and Harvey family -- played a historic role in establishing a Middletown hospital on March 5, 1917, which opened with 28 beds… (4)
Also lending support were pioneering physicians who supported the opening of a hospital and fostered its growth : Dr. Mabel Gardner, Dr. David Gerber and Dr. E.O. Bauer…” (4)
What was once Middletown Hospital has grown into the local Atrium Medical Center with emergency capabilities to assist victims of misfortune.
And citizens, law enforcement officers, firefighters, paramedics and other Hometown Heroes still flee to the scene of tragedy with compassionate hearts and helping hands.
Note: Sources on MidPointe’s Digital Archives describe the location of the devastating July 4, 1910, train wreck as the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Railroad between West Middletown and Poasttown : http://www.midpointedigitalarchives.org/digital/collection/Crout/id/3625/rec/27
Photo of Spectators/Helpers at Train Wreck July 4, 1910: http://www.midpointedigitalarchives.org/digital/collection/Crout/id/4385/rec/2
Photo of Herbert Fall artistic rendering of a 1913 Flood scene on what is now First Avenue, Middletown: http://www.midpointedigitalarchives.org/digital/collection/Crout/id/372/rec/28
1.”Middletown Diary : the tragedy” by Middletown Historian George Crout, Middletown Journal, June 27, 1981
2.”Middletown Ohio,” part of the “Images of America” series by Roger L. Miller and George C. Crout, Arcadia Publishing, 1998.
3.”Death Rode Rails That Hot July Day” by Patty Mummert, Middletown Journal, July 10, 1960, accompanied by the article, “Those Who Saw Can’t Forget.”
4.”7 things to know about Middletown’s hospital on its 100th anniversary” by Eric Schwartzberg, Journal-News, March 6, 2017.
The image of the headline, ”That Awful Wreck In Which 21 People Meet Death And Many Others Badly Injured,” appeared in the The Middletown Daily News Signal, July 5, 1910. Parts of that article and others used for this column are available for reading in the MidPointe Library-Middletown’s Ohio Room “Vertical File.”
#TriviaTuesday - Can you “imagine” who is being honored with a commemorative Forever stamp on his birthday today?
John Lennon never could have imagined that one day his image would appear on a postage stamp in the country that became his final home.
Not even if he tried.
But today, on what would have been his 78th birthday, fans around the country are buying multiple copies of the US postage stamp adorned with Lennon’s iconic image.
It’s a small but unique way to savor the man, his music, and the memories he’s left behind.
We locals got our first, live taste of Beatlemania at a never-to-be-forgotten concert at Cincinnati Gardens on August 27, 1964. You may have been one of the lucky ones to attend.
Sensing its historical significance, the local press covered the event as if it was a visit by a world dignitary. Only world dignitaries usually don’t attract hordes of screaming teenage girls.
The Friday, August 28, 1964, Middletown Journal was no exception. It carried an Associated Press article describing the reaction to Lennon and his Beatle bandmates : Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.
“A crowd estimated at around 14,000 -- and not all of them teenagers -- crowded into the Cincinnati Gardens Thursday night to see and hear the mop-topped British quartet, but few if any of them got to hear ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’...The moment the Beatles stepped on the raised stage at the sports arena, the 14,000 leaped to their feet and started to jump up and down -- and scream. (1)
“More than 100 persons fainted during the performance and a few were treated for cuts and bruises they suffered when they fell, but on the whole the crowd was orderly. (1)
“Weary policeman said the noise was something else again. They’d never heard anything quite like it…” (1)
If you’ve ever followed the Beatles you know well the iconic looks and sounds, the personalities, and the controversies that surrounded the group.
Lennon was no stranger to the latter. His 1966 comment about the Beatles being “more popular than Jesus now” (2) and his romance with artist Yoko Ono while still married to wife, Cynthia, with whom he had a son, made headlines around the world. He eventually married Ono and settled with her and their son in the famous Dakota building across from Central Park in New York City.
The headlines screamed again on December 8, 1980, when Lennon suffered a horrific death in front of that home, shot by Mark David Chapman (3), whose name still lives in infamy among Lennon admirers around the world.
They just couldn’t have imagined life without Lennon.
Not even if they tried.
Wikipedia. “More Popular Than Jesus”
Wikipedia. “John Lennon”