Just Won”DER”ing

Yesterday, after spending a day up north to take care of some family business, Lee and I returned to Columbus by way of Amish Country to mix things up. I know, I know… you’re probably wondering: Exactly HOW boring IS your life that Amish Country was a jazzy, new option? And you’re probably right. But that is beside the point because yesterday it WAS a viable option. And it did not disappoint. In fact, it proved to be quite refreshing and entertaining.

While driving 35 MPH across steep and winding roads through half a dozen quaint little burgs with equally quaint names like Sugarcreek, Walnut Creek and Charm—dodging buggies and bicycles the entire way—we made an interesting observation about the local marketing techniques.

Those techniques being the placing of the words: “Der” and “Ye Olde” in front of every, single “Amish” business that we passed. A couple of examples are: “Der Furniture Market” and “Ye Olde Fudge Shoppe.” Now, I’m certain that all of these businesses were not actually owned and operated by Amish people, but for the sake of moving the largest amount of goods possible to Bob and Betty America from North Dakota, this scheme must be proving successful to a degree.

Driving along, windows down and inquisitive stares hidden behind sunglasses, we couldn’t help but wonDER… (and giggle wildly as we did as we did so) Does placing these words in front of every business name in “Amish Country” really increase patronage? If it does, why didn’t we pass Der Burger King, Ye Olde Wal-Marte, Der Dollar General, Ye Olde Marathon Station or Der Dunkin Donuts… just to name a few?

And yes, it IS that fun to place those words in front of every business. Perhaps that’s an indictment on our character or simply a demonstration of the measure of boredom we were feeling during a 3-hour car ride… I really don’t care. We managed to entertain ourselves as we laughed hysterically while throwing it in front of everything we passed. If you don’t believe me — give it a try on your next road trip.

P.S. Initially I feared offending anyone who IS Amish that might come across this post, but then I remembered… If you’re Amish, you’re probably not reading this anyway.

Friday Night Lights: The Playoffs

Minerva Lions — 2011 NBC Champs / Photo courtesy of Liz Smith, 2011

Situated halfway between Cleveland and Pittsburgh lies a sleepy little village called Minerva, OH. And it’s pretty safe to say that inside this tiny speck on the map there isn’t much going on. Most of the year it is fairly quiet. Until football season that is.

Between the months of August and November Minerva and all of the surrounding specks on the map turn into quite different places. We may not have the ocean, the mountains, 365 days of sunshine or celebrities on parade — though we do have several zoos… But that’s another post for another day.

One thing we do have is high school football.

It’s hard to explain to people who aren’t from here just what all the fuss is about. But I can tell you that it’s about community and pride and the spirit of competition. It’s about cramming as many of your friends and neighbors and maybe your not-so-friendly neighbors into the bleachers on a crisp, Friday night and sharing an experience. Enjoying, for once, what it means to have everything in common… if only for a few hours.

In this place we love our team whether they are good or bad… but even more so when they’re good. And this year, in Minerva, the team is good. Really good. After completing a thrilling 10-0 season and securing the 2011 Northeastern Buckeye Conference Championship, they made history one week ago today by winning our first playoff game EVER. Our team has gone to the playoffs plenty of times, but we’ve never known what it’s like to go on after that. And while that may not seem like a very big deal to you… trust me, around here… IT’S A BIG DAMN DEAL.

Tonight, for the first time in the history of small town Minerva Lions football, we will get our chance…

The following is something that I wrote three years ago, during my first football season after moving back “home” from New Mexico. I honestly don’t know that I can capture the emotion of it any better than I did in my original Friday Night Lights piece. For those of you who don’t quite “get it” when it comes to small mid-western towns OR football… please tune in on Monday when I’ll have something different to offer.

But for all of you who do get it and who will be cheering from the stands right beside me… Enjoy… Post this to your Facebook page… Email it to your friends… But most importantly… GO LIONS!!

Photo courtesy of Liz Smith, 2011