Meredith College Student Newspaper /
Feb. 1, 2012, edition 1 /
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Guest Column: Life Its Own Seif Confessions of a Meredith Momma
Michael Novak, Contributing Writer
The Great Chagrin Falls Dung Ball
Championships: Part One of Two
The joy of sports seems innate. It requires no more than the
urge to run around, the natural impulse to throw and kick, and,
possibly, some sort of projectiles to focus the activity. (Boys es
pecially seem to prefer the projectiles.) Creativity adds delight.
Rules satisfy the human need for justice and prevent the subli
mated warfare from becoming much more. These principles are,
I believe, well illustrated in The Great Chagrin Falls Dung Ball
Championships of my own childhood. And, as Dave Barry would
say, I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP.
Those of us growing up on Essth and Fleet in Cleveland could
anticipate a unique opportunity every summer. My father and
some of his buddies down at the Serbo-Croatian Hall had bought
an old dilapidated 25 acre farm about 30 miles from town, which
they together repaired, painted, plumbed, wired and fenced as
part of a grand design to be able to ride horses without having the
money to afford them. They would take in boarders who did have
horses, work out the profit margin and have steeds of their own
in exchange for housing and caring for those of the better heeled.
Later in life my father was himself able to buy the farm, but that is
The opportunity it gave us came during about 10 days each July,
when the 15 acres of alfalfa that would feed and bed the beasts
needed to be cut, dried, baled and stashed in the lofts before it
could go sour in the fields. Because the cost of buying hay and
straw for a winter would have broken the whole deal, very much
was at stake and time was of the essence. With but two small
tractors, a bailing machine and a hay wagon, the job was labor
intensive. But free labor was, of course, the whole point of having
children, so out we would go, conscripts all, determined to make
the best of whatever opportunities presented themselves to us.
The farm itself was located on the border between the then two
small villages of Solon and Chagrin Falls. The first was named for
its founder, John Solon Bull, and bore witness to the classical ed
ucation that the settfers of Connecticut’s Western Reserve brought
with them. The second was the best the surveyors could make of
the indigenous name for the smallish river that ran through both
villages before joining the mighty Cuyahoga to spawn huge river
fires by the Cleveland steel mills. “Sha-kwin,” the earliest maps
said, so the map makers went with the closest English word they
could find, noted that the river did in fact cascade at that point,
and dubbed the town Chagrin Falls. Imagine our delight once we
actually found out what the word “chagrin” meant. Hence the title
of our annual championships.
The playing fields emerged from the group dynamics of horses
and cattle. Each of the three stallions had his own small fenced
compound, about the size of a basketball court, to keep the highly
motivated equines from visiting their unwanted affections upon
the poor mares, who had a much larger and safer pasture to
themselves next to where the cows grazed. Bitter experience had
taught my father that mere wood could not constrain a stallion
driven to procreate, or prevent the manic critter from damaging
itself, so he had added bovine voltage electrical wires to each rail
of the fencing in the three paddocks. Our favorite of the three
venues also housed the large pile of manure waiting to be spread
on the fields after the hay was in.
Thus the field of play, an inadvertent preview of the setting for
today’s cage fights. But projectiles?
To this end we would rotate the stallions through the manure
pile paddock 24 hours each day, and add to their ample deposits
those gleaned from the stalls of the mares and from the consider
ably richer stuff left by the cows in the two or three shady places
where they gathered to graze, ruminate, and defecate - three
core activities that seem to define all cows everywhere. A week of
systematic effort on our part would leave the chosen paddock rich
in cow pies, named for their shape, and horse plops, an onomato-
poetic word that well captured the sound of the fresh droppings
hitting the ground four feet from their point of origin.
to be continued in our next issue on February 15
Emily Gamiel, Co-Editor
Tell me about your
cute little man!
“His real name is
Ellis Jr., out we all
call him Buddah, the
nickname kind of just
happened, and he an
swers to it so we were
like, ‘Hey this works.’
My favorite thing to
do with him is blow
bubbles. He goes nuts
over them and his
whole face lights up
and he likes to try and
say bubbles so he’ll go
‘bubbas bubbas.’ It’s
the sweetest thing.
Besides that we just
hang out like best
buds all day, laugh
ing at random stuff he
image via Janay Holley
How old were you when you got pregnant? And what year at
Mereditih were you at that time?
“I was 19 when I got pregnant and a sophomore at MC.”
How did having a baby affect your college career?
“It definitely put a stress on my grades because most days I didn’t feel
like going to class. I was still living on campus up until school let out, so
I haa to really focus and buckle down to finish strong. I ended up taking
a semester on of school due to being put on bed rest for the last three
months of my pregnancy.”
What year are you now, and when do you plan on graduating?
“I am not class of 2013, but plan on graduating in May of 2013.”
What stras did you take in order to ensure you would return
to schoolafter having him?
“I had to focus and really speak with my family and get motivation. I
knew that I had to go back to school and that I wanted to graduate and
prove people wrong.”
How do the miseonceptions stirred up by TV shows, like Teen
Mom, make you feel?
“I can’t stand the teen mom shows because those girls are ridiculous, I
didn’t move out of my parents’ house or run and get married or any of
that crap. My son’s father lives in a different state, so I am technically a
single mom and most of the financial woes are on me. My parents don’t
just keep my son; I have to ask them for a baby sitter when I want to go
out. That show is just so ugh!”
Are you ever stereotyped as being a bad mother because of
these bad examples m the media?
“I’ve never been told that I was a bad mother; I actually get commended
a lot by women and my family because most people, and the girls, feel
like they would never go back to school, and I’m here; I’m doing it for
me and my sons benem.”
Does this affeet you and your goals as a parent?
“I can admit that I want the whole marriage and family lifestyle and
that’s how I wanted my son to grow up but things happen and as long as
he smiles all day every day and ne wants for nothing then I feel like I m
doing a great job; everyone that comes in contact with my son will tell
you thatne is a happy child and is amazing.”
What is your favorite thing about being a parent?
“My favorite thing is waking up and seeing my son eveiy morning, and
that smile he gives only me; my son has a smile that lights up a room
and most importantly my life.”^
What is your number one goal in being a parent?
“My number one goal is to set a good example for my son so that he
grows up knowing how to treat women, what a good example of a man
IS and for him to know that he can achieve whatever he wants out of life;
I want my son to know that the sky is the limit and if he can make his
dreams come true.”
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