Thursday, September 28, 2006

Sept. 28, 2006 -- Boss’s departure leaves vacancy for new dork

By David Fong, Troy Daily News

I still remember when David Kennard walked into our newsroom seven years ago. My first thought was, “Well, where did they get this dork from?”
And as he prepared to leave our newsroom, my final thought is, “How can we possibly let this dork go?”
Often times in this business, we see our co-workers more than we see our families (which, when you have a mother like mine, isn’t necessarily such a bad thing, I suppose). In any event, it sometimes gets to the point where we start thinking of our fellow journalists as family members.
I suppose since he was the boss, some might think of David as a father figure — but I never did.
Mostly because if I ever gave my father a “Wet Willie” or a “Purple Nurple” or “Forearm Skin Burn” — all of which I tried to administer to David on a weekly basis — my dad would have beaten the snot out of me.
No, David was more like an older brother — an older brother that I was physically superior to (or at least an older brother that allowed me to think I was physically superior to him).
Last Sunday, David wrote his final column detailing all the things he’s going to miss about living and working here in Miami County.
And here’s all of the things I’m going to miss about David being here:
■Throwing things on top of the roof of the Troy Daily News. In the past three months alone, pumpkins, doughnuts and muffins have all been thrown from the street to the roof of the newspaper by David and I. Good thing he’s leaving before he put something through our publisher’s window, huh?
■Working with David to put out “The Blitz,” our weekly high school football section. You ever notice how beautiful some of the covers have been, particularly during Troy-Piqua week? Thank him.
He’s one of the most talented newspaper designers I’ve ever known. Afraid you’ll notice a drop-off here in the next week or so? Blame him ... for leaving.
■Calling David at home at 3 a.m. when the computers crash — then him not remembering our phone conversation the next day.
■Watching David eat a nutritious dinner when he pulled a Saturday night shift. If, of course, you consider an entire can of sour cream and onion Pringles, a giant microwave burrito and six gallons of root beer (real root beer, not the kind of root beer I usually write about) nutritious, that is.
■The Strawberry Festival bed races. How can we possibly continue this tradition without him? Much faster, in all likelihood.
■Buying various forms of livestock with him at the Miami County Fair auction every summer.
Last month, David and I spent an afternoon at the fair. We drank milkshakes, we looked at pigs, we played midway games and we won one of those stupid painted sticks (which I spent the rest of the day poking him with, by the way).
By that point, I knew David was looking to move out West and likely would be leaving our happy family soon. In the back of my mind, I knew it was probably going to be one of our final chances to hang out.
While I was happy to see him move on to a new opportunity, I knew all of our lives were going to be a little worse off once he left.
In his final column, David wrote that what he’ll miss about Troy is everything. All I’m going to miss about him is everything.
The big dork.

Troy’s very own David Fong appears on Thursdays in the Troy Daily News. With David gone, he plans on channeling all his abuse toward Chuck Soder.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sept. 24, 2006 -- The best thing about living in Troy is everything

Besides the tomato garden in the backyard, I think the thing I’ll miss the most about Troy is the Strawberry Festival bed races.

Wait. Scratch that.

Besides the tomato garden in the back yard, I think the thing I’ll miss the most is fishing for bluegill in the county ponds next to the Little League fields.

No, wait, tomatoes, fishing, then Strawberry Festival bed races. Of course the bed races count for two, because it’s also a blast selling strawberry pies with the Boy Scouts on the square that same night.

Also on the list would have to be riding the Great Miami River bike path through Troy — but once I’m not around I’m not sure who will give Bob Shook a hard time about the thing. (I’d never admit it, but he and his committee really have done a great job on the project.)

So my Troy top 10 would be backyard tomatoes, fishing, bed races, bike path, then maybe sneaking away from the office to grab some lunch at Bakehouse Breads or Taggerts on the Square.

After that, I have to include the Friday night concert series, the downtown bike races, eating elephant ears at the Miami County Fair and squeezing lemons for the Rotary Club on the levee during the Strawberry Festival.

Is that 10?

OK, making the top 20 would have to be pizza from the Staunton Country Store, golf at the Troy Country Club or Miami Shores — since I’m a horrible golfer it really doesn’t matter much to me.

Also, watching Fourth of July fireworks from the Market Street bridge, concerts at Hayner, ice cream from Wildberries and hiking at Charleston Falls.

OK, wait, Charleston Falls has to be in the Top 10. I’m a little lost on what has to go, but they’re all right up there.

Rounding out the top 20 things I’ll miss the most when I leave next week has to be skiing with the high school at Mad River Mountain and watching any high school sporting event, but especially basketball.

And let me renew my objection to selling the Miami East Intermediate School Gym. You just haven’t experienced basketball unless you’ve seen a game at that old gym.

Other stuff that has to be included on the things-I’ll-miss-most list: Running the 5K at Brukner, Summer Camp with the Boy Scouts (total I’ve spent 30 nights over six summers in canvas tents between here and Kentucky) and riding the motorcycle along the River Road north of Troy.

During the last seven years, I’ve flown kites at WACO field, marched in numerous Halloween parades and bought enough animals at the Miami County Fair market sale to fill a barnyard.

A side note: You know those hamburgers they pass out to buyers at the sale barn? Well, don’t you think it’s just a little cruel to be eating hamburgers in front of the cows that are walking around in the auction pen? I mean talk about rubbing your face in it.

Oh yeah, and bike rides to Troy Community Park, and riding on the TDN float in the Strawberry Festival Parade, and root beer floats from the UDF across the street.

I can’t believe I almost forgot root beer floats. Working the copy desk on a Saturday night would be almost unbearable without root beer floats.

I hope they have root beer floats in Idaho and tomatoes and strawberry pie.

David Kennard has been the Troy Daily News executive editor for the last seven years. Next week he leaves for a new position at the Idaho Statesmen in Boise, Idaho. You can contact him at kennard@tdnpublishing.com.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Sunday, July 2, 2006

July 2, 2006 -- Spirit of Independence given birth by early Americans

As you sit in your driveway Tuesday, drinking your lemonade and watching the kids burn themselves on sparklers, pause for just a minute to recall why we celebrate the Fourth of July.

We celebrate, of course, to mark the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. That eventful day was told mostly by early newspapers and by word of mouth following the surrender of British troops in Yorktown in 1781.

It wasn’t until two years later, however, in 1793 that America became officially recognized by “the crown” in the Treaty of Paris and still another year before the newly formed Congress actually ratified the action.

The long delay, from 1776 to 1794 —almost 20 years — is a good example of how the government still works today. Of course there was the small matter of overthrowing the greatest military in the new era.

So the real question is: On what date should we celebrate the birth of our country? On the date of conception in 1776, or on the date 20 years later when it was actually born? My answer is Aug. 9, 1757.

Any historians out there? That famous day in history marked the beginning of the fall of the British empire on the North American continent.

Four days earlier, the sound of locusts hung in the late summer air as red coated regulars scrambled to shore up the walls of the massive Fort William Henry.

The 2,400 soldiers, carpenters, laborers and family members that operated the fort just east of the finger lakes region of upstate New York had heard about the massive French force that planned to lay siege to the fort sometime in the coming days.

Lieutenant Colonel George Monro, a veteran British officer with plenty of military service on his resume, had already sent runners with a message to nearby Fort Edward for assistance in dispatching the French.

Had it not be for a rouge gang of American Indians tapped into service by the French, we may still be pledging allegiance to the Union Jack instead of the Stars and Stripes. 

The dispatch never arrived at Fort Edward and the French began their siege of the most prized fort on the “Western Frontier.”

Fort William Henry was a massive collection of walls made of heavy logs, mud and boulders. It was a prize that needed to be taken if France was to secure its trade routes from Canada into the lower continent.

The French commander in North America, Louis-Joseph Marquis de Montcalm, knew about forts. He had already taken several British forts by force and had no intention of letting William Henry escape.

But Montcalm was a decent man by war standards. Before he ordered his cannons to fire on the walls of the edifice to British might, he sent in a white flag as an offer for the enemy to
surrender.

Monro refused, of course, and the fight began.

The already humid air soon became choked with thick smoke as the bombardment commenced.

American Indian warriors used the thick cover around the fort to slowly pick off the defenders mounted high on the walls above.

The fight lasted only three days before Montcalm sent his second-incommand Francois-Gaston de Levis into the fray with yet another white flag to allow the British to surrender.

Monro initially refused, but de Levis had no intention of annihilating his foe, and offered what to this day is considered one of the most generous military offers made.

Monro was allowed to leave the fort with his survivors if they promised to not fight the French again for 18 months. 

They would keep their personal items, their weapons and their flags.

The sick and wounded would remain and be cared for by the French and returned to the British when they were able.

How could he refuse? Monro, in return for his civility treated Montcalm to a feast the following day. 

And so the British kept their pride intact as they left William Henry in the hands of the French.

A side note: The wild card in the whole affair was the large group of American Indians who were not civil by any stretch of the imagination.

As soon as the British had gone, they rushed in, scalped the dead and took the survivors prisoner along with whatever bounty they could find. This appalled Montcalm, who to his benefit, spent the better part of the next year trying to find the captives and return them to the British.

He succeeded in finding all but about 200.

Word of the fall of William Henry spread across the frontier.

The British could be beaten. Not only could they be beaten, they could be beaten badly.

That message was heard loud and clear by an already frustrated provincial population of American colonists who were growing angrier by the day at the treatment they received from the King of England.

Soon, the term patriotism changed its meaning from those loyal to the crown, to those loyal to freedom.

It was only four months later that a young British officer by the name of George Washington resigned his commission in the British army to become a tobacco farmer in a small town named Mt. Vernon.

Long before the war for independence was fought by our earliest patriots, this other war, the French-Indian War, set the stage for the birth of the greatest country on the planet. 

Happy Independence Day.

David Kennard is the publisher and executive editor of the Troy Daily News. He’s on vacation this week in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, but you can send him email at kennard@tdnpublishing.com.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

June 11, 2006 -- Rules of fatherhood honed by trial and error

The hamster died (note to mother: not the rabbit).

This is not code. The hamster really did die, or is nearly dead as I write this. I’m pretty sure it’s not going to make it through the night. And come morning, we’ll have another addition
to the Kennard family pet cemetery located under the tree house in the back yard.

The running total of four-legged family members who have checked out is four: a cat, two bunnies and hamster No. 1, aka Hamtaro. The fish just get flushed — and I’ve lost track
of how many anyway.

The most recent dearly departed, Hamwise Gamgee, was taking his
last labored breaths early in the day Saturday.

It’s a shame, kind of. We just picked up a really cool hamster habitat
at a garage sale over in the Shenandoah neighborhood yesterday.

Already the kids are talking about what kind of hamster to get next. I believe they are coming to grips with death in the animal kingdom — at least the Kennard animal kingdom.

I suppose with each passing it gets a little easier to accept. I’ll tell you, though, the first couple of fatalities were pretty hard.

Little girls don’t like it when their furry little bunny dies.

I suppose it’s only fitting that the most recent death happened during the Father’s Day season. I firmly believe that it is a father’s duty to dispose of the family pet. That’s what my dad taught me and I’m sure, his dad before that.

Little sons and daughters need to see a father deal with death in a mature way. Even if it means wrapping a hamster up in a band aid box and placing it gently into the ground next to the rhododendron bushes.

Over the years, I’ve figured out a few other things that fathers need to do. I’ve kind of compiled this list myself, since I’ve never found a really comprehensive manual on the subject of fatherhood. In fact, I suppose if there were such a thing, the first chapter would instruct the reader to “pitch this manual — children do not come with instruction.”

No. 1: You can hold your little girl’s hand forever, but sons grow out of it at about age 11.

No. 2: Kisses are a good thing. Refer to No. 1.

No. 3: You cannot be naked in your house — ever.

No. 4: You cannot use the bathroom in your house — ever. Adendum: All bathrooms belong to the children.

No. 5: Never, never, never use the words, “I don’t care,” especially if your wife is around.

No. 6. Fathers know everything. (For father’s only: www.google.com, www.wikipedeia.org, www.seussville.org, www.yugioh.com.)

No. 7. While it is not important that you know the meaning of the following words, it is important that you learn when to use them: bushing, bearing, carburetion, relay switch, sending unit, manifold. Let me illustrate.

Wife: “What is all that smoke coming out of the back of the minivan?”

Your answer: “I’m sure it’s just the manifold bearing, although the carburetion relay switch in these cars sometimes has a hard time communicating with the sending unit after 60,000 miles. I’ll have a look at it when we get home.” 

Young daughter: “Dad sure is smart.” 

No. 8. Get to know your mechanic really well. Addendum: Open a super secret savings account for auto repair.

No. 9. Ladders, boats, BB guns, pocket knives, any wooden object over four feet tall, electric outlets and stray cats are tools of Satan designed to draw you in and cause bodily harm. Also, while the spin cycle on a washing machine looks really cool, you can never grab an article of clothing until the machine comes to a complete stop.

The former has little to do with fatherhood, unless you are with your child at the time of the accident. Addendum: Children learn most swear words from their fathers.

No. 10. Use the following phrases as often as possible: “Because that’s the way it is,” “What makes you think I did that?” “I’m sorry,” “Don’t worry, we can always get a new one,” “I’m sure everything will be OK tomorrow.”

I know there are other rules of fatherhood that need to be addressed.

For instance, we didn’t even talk about the size of an extra large pizza compared to the size of a 6-year-old’s tummy, but like I said earlier, most of this stuff is trial and error anyway.

By the way, anybody know where to find a good eulogy for a hamster?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

May 28, 2006 -- As you celebrate, remember those who serve

It’s hot in Iraq this time of year.

There are more than 130,000 U.S. troops stationed in the desert nation this Memorial Day Weekend.

They will celebrate with services today, speeches tomorrow, but many will mark the American holiday by doing what they have been doing for the last three years, going door-todoor, helping the people of Iraq, rebuilding infrastructure and training

Iraq’s citizenry to care for themselves.

The nation’s prime minister said this week that the country will be ready to defend itself from internal threats by the year 2007.

We can only hope that means some of those 130,000 U.S. troops will be coming home soon.

It’s hard to know for sure how many of those are from Miami County or even from Ohio. The military doesn’t give very detailed information about who is serving where at any moment in time. Most families don’t really even know where exactly their soldiers are serving.

Three or four times a week, I have a chance to visit with a soldier’s family member as they update me on what is happening with their son or daughter.

Many are in Iraq, some in Europe, many more are stateside training.

We publish the information on the Hometown Heroes page about once a week in the Troy Daily News.

Most of the news is good, thank God above. I never served in the military.

At 18 I registered for the draft as required by law, but of course the Cold War wasn’t a time of active recruitment.

I do know several people who have served, some work on our staff here at the Troy Daily News.

Anthony Weber, photo chief, is an Army veteran, and Ken Bowen, circulation director – the guy who makes sure this paper is delivered – is a veteran.

Both served their time and now are home and living their lives. I’m thankful for their service to my country.

During spring break, I had a chance to visit with one of my uncles.

Richard, my dad’s youngest brother, is starting to get up there in age now, but he remembers vividly the time he served his country. As a young helicopter pilot, he flew evacuation missions into the jungles of Vietnam.

Many wounded soldiers were carried out under the blades of his HH- 3E Jolly Green Giant.

“You can land about anywhere in those,” he told me. “But it’s a lot more difficult when the enemy is firing up at you from the forest.”

I can only imagine.

Further back, my mom’s dad fought in the trenches of Belgium and France during World War I. My great-great grandfather served with the Union Army in the Civil War. He was wounded in battle, taken prisoner in Georgia and later released back to his home in southern Ohio.

His grandfather fought for American freedom during the Revolutionary War. My oldest son, finishing is junior year in high school, has been heavily recruited by every branch of the military.

It worries me some what he may be thinking. Although I would be very proud to have a son serving in the military, to be honest, I hope he chooses a different career path.

It’s hot in Troy this time of year.

As you read this, I may very well be cooking hamburgers and hotdogs in Troy’s Community Park.

I imagine most of you will be doing something similar. In fact most of the country is celebrating this extended weekend with picnics and family vacations.

But as you enjoy yourself this weekend, take just a minute to appreciate those young men and women celebrating this holiday far from home.

Take a minute to think about how your life has been touched by a soldier – family member or not.

On Monday, I hope you’ll make it out to Troy’s Memorial Day parade. It begins at 9:15 a.m. and travels through the Public Square west to Adams Street, where it ends at Riverside Cemetery with a short service.

David Kennard is the executive editor and publisher of the Troy Daily News. You can send him e-mail at editorial@tdnpublishing.com.

Monday, May 15, 2006

May 14, 2006 -- Mom’s adventurous spirit was an inspiration

My mother grew up in a small wheat farming town in the middle of nowhere Kansas.

Her father was a World War I veteran and fought in the trenches of Germany and Belgium. He later came home and began working as an electrician, installing electric lights in most of the homes around the prairie farming community of Delphos, Kansas.

My mother’s mother was a vegetable gardener who grew more in her quarter-acre garden than you can find in the Meijer produce section.

Although my mother grew up as a country girl in a small town — with a town square complete with a statue of Abraham Lincoln and a gas co-op — she wasn’t afraid to look out at the big wonderful world beyond the banks of the muddy Solomon River and the grain elevators that marked the edge of paradise.

After high school she became a Jayhawk at the University of Kansas, where she got her teaching degree — her ticket out.

She left the rolling plains of the Midwest for the Navajo Indian reservations of New Mexico. She taught school to the young Shiprock Navajo children, most of whom either walked to school across the desert country or arrived in the back of old pickup trucks.

A few years later she fell in love with a handsome young electrical engineer who worked wherever his company sent him to build missile silos for the U.S. government during the early stages of the Cold War.

I showed up a few years later and lived in Wyoming, California, North Dakota, Arizona and finally Colorado, where Dad finally found a job building skyscrapers and public utility plants.

Mom, of course, came along for the ride, never working again after those few years of teaching Navajo children.

She taught me how to love the Denver Broncos even before the John Elway years — you know, the bad years.

She was a stay-at-home mom during the rise of the women’s liberation movement. I was 8 and loved flying kites, finding frogs and turtles and watching Saturday morning cartoons.

When I was 10 I convinced her to let me have a paper route. Most of the time until I was big enough to load up the 60 or so papers on my bike, she’d drive me around the neighborhood in our old brown Rambler.

We’d take that old Rambler on family vacations back to Kansas to see grandma, work in the garden and dig thistles out of grandma’s pasture land that she leased to a neighbor to run cattle on.

Forty acres of virgin Kansas prairie holds lots of thistles. It was usually a two-day job to cover all the ups, downs and cow ponds.

We’d take meat sandwiches, cantaloupe and a jug of ice water for a picnic in the tall grass and shade of the cottonwood trees.

The mosquitoes were always bad in August, but mom and grandma would work up a smudge fire to keep them away while we rested under the blue sky. We’d head back in the late afternoon and I’d help grandma snap beans or read old Pogo comic books that she kept in an upstairs cedar chest.

Grandma didn’t own a TV, so we’d entertain ourselves by playing outside games or chasing fireflies.

Grandma’s gone now, but mom’s still around. I don’t talk to her as much as I probably should. She sends letters and I enjoy reading them, but I don’t write back nearly as much as I should.

When I do, I try to tell her thank you for taking care of me and raising me right.

She taught me a lot of things, but mostly I think she taught me to enjoy life and find adventure wherever I am, even if it is in a small town somewhere in the Midwest.

David Kennard is the executive editor and publisher of the Troy Daily News. You can contact him at 440-5228 or send e-mail to editorial@tdnpublishing.com.

Sunday, April 2, 2006

April 2, 2006 -- Scientists prove they know little about prayer

It’s now a scientific fact that prayer has no benefit.

You may have seen the news story the other day that told of the most scientific study ever conducted on the matter of prayer.

Groups of god-fearing people were asked to pray for various sick people and then scientists watched to see what happened.

In one case, a majority of sick people actually got worse. The sickly people in the other groups showed no benefit from those soliciting the heavens for their speedy recovery.

The conclusion is that God does not answer prayer. When I was shopping for cars a year or so ago I spoke to a bunch of car dealers. I visited the local lots, Erwin, Arbogast, Troy Ford, even talked to some folks outside the area.

The Dodge dealer told me that Chevies and Fords were no good.

The Chevy folks told me not to waste my time on Fords or Dodges.

What I learned is that despite what the Ford man may have thought, he was not an expert on Chevies.

When I finally did settle on a car, I discovered the best source was not the guy down the street peddling his own brand.

Without trying to sound too much like a Sunday school teacher, I’ll say that scientists will never be able to prove the existence of God.

Nor should they, although I do give them credit for spending our tax dollars on the subject.

There is a little thing called faith that plays into the whole talking to God thing. Offering prayers and monitoring the results really is the opposite of that.

I consider myself a church-going man. I’m there almost every Sunday, singing the hymns, shaking the hands, straightening my son’s tie and tucking in his shirt.

I’ve even been known to offer prayers once in a while.

By no means would I consider myself an expert on the subject of prayer. And I’ve certainly never put it to a scientific test. I know enough about the man upstairs not to test him. You may remember what happened to the king of Egypt when he tried that.

The lesson there was to be careful what you ask for. Moses let him have it.

My feeling is most people pray pretty often, and I don’t mean, “Please God, don’t let my boss find out,” or “Holy (expletive deleted), now what I am I going to do?” The most effective prayers are offered not out of desperation, rather they are offered with foresight and hope.

For instance, how do you feel when your son or daughter comes to you and says something like, “Uh Dad, I’m really sorry, but I have to tell you something.” My guess is, God feels the same way. “Oh man, here it comes.

What’ll it be this time: pillar of salt?, belly of a fish? Plagues and locusts, I haven’t tried that in a while?” I’m also pretty sure that God’s looking at a much bigger picture than we are. A few prayers offered in a scientific study may look good in headlines and a handful of scientific journals, but I’m sure it counts little in the book of eternal salvation.

I did, however, happen to do a little research on the subject of prayer. I found a pretty good quote by American Cardinal Francis Spellman. He said, “Pray as if everything depended upon God and work as if everything depended upon man.” A few quick links on the Internet also will yield a number of results about prayer.

In fact, you can find the “Praying to God doesn’t work” story online.

Below the story you can find the related stories: “The hardcore ‘Penthouse,’ yours for $100m,” “U.S.

Mint forks out $9 million over sexual harassment of staff,” and “One man and his bestseller: the dog that ate America.” God’s in good company. It’s no wonder he’s put us all on call waiting.

David Kennard is the executive editor and publisher of the Troy Daily News. You can send him email at kennard@tdn publishing.com.

April 2, 2006 - Troy Daily News


Sunday, February 12, 2006

Feb. 12, 2006 -- Love of cars and racing begins early for boys and dads

It’s Pinewood Derby season.

To Cub Scouts that’s the equivalent of the Daytona 500.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know much about racing or cars in general, but I do enjoy helping kids build Pinewood Derby Cars.

I suppose I first felt the racing bug when I was about 8 years old.

We had just moved to town and I joined a Cub Scout group that met near the elementary school once a week.

Back in those days it was still OK for a third-grader to walk to school.

I’d walk three or four blocks, then a bunch of us would walk another mile or so to Mrs.

Williams’ home for the Cub Scout meeting.

Then I’d walk home.

As I remember it seemed like I did a lot of walking back then.

I’m sure it wasn’t because gas was expensive or anything like that.

In fact, I remember my dad complaining when it went above 50 cents per gallon.

“That old Rambler is getting too expensive to drive,” he’d say.

Dad was the kind of guy who bought new cars, took care of them and drove them until they finally died.

I remember him one time complaining that the only new car he could find for under $3,000 was a Chevy Vega.

He complained a lot about cars, now that I think about it.

But we kept that old brown twotone Rambler until it was replaced by a new Ford Country Squire wagon.

Man alive was it sweet.

Power windows, air conditioning, fold-down rear bed that turned into additional seating, and FM radio.

I’d help Dad change the oil and put air in the tires and stuff like that.

It was pretty cool to lift up that giant hood.

A little guy like me could practically sit inside that humungous engine compartment.

The Country Squire met its demise quite a few years later when some dumb teenage kid — me — wrecked it into some bushes off an icy road.

I screwed up the linkage and it was going to cost, like, $1,500 to repair.

Dad sold it to a friend from work for $1.

The Vega had quite a different end.

Dad drove it to work and back every day, but stopped on his way home for something or another — probably at the hardware store.

He was always stopping at the hardware store.

We had more sink washers and mismatched screw drivers than probably even the store itself.

Anyway, as Dad tells it he parked on the street next to the curb on a windy day when the limb from a giant old maple came crashing down on the car.

The insurance company said it didn’t cover acts of God.

So the Vega was replaced by a shiny new Ford Fairmont.

Dads and cars seem to go together.

That’s probably a chauvinistic thing to say, but some gender roles are pretty long lasting, I suppose.

When I brought that first Pinewood Derby car home, Dad said he’d help me with it.

Between the two of us we came up with a pretty strange looking car.

I didn’t have a pocketknife, so the whole thing was done with a steak knife I smuggled from the kitchen drawer.

Dad showed me how to wrap a piece of sandpaper around a block of wood to make it easier to take out the big scratches.

We drilled out the bottom, poured in some lead that we melted in a tuna can on the Coleman camp stove, then took the tiny car down to the post office to have it weighed.

After a week of tinkering with it, we had it to the regulation weight and ready to race.

It took first place and I took home a new pocketknife, and whole lot of respect for my dad.

He’s not driving anymore, but I heard my Mom bought a new car not too long ago after the last one finally gave out.

With four kids of my own, I’ve had pine shavings on my garage floor and old tuna cans sitting on my work bench for years.

My youngest joined Cubs this year, so it looks like I’ve got only a few more derby years left.

See you at the races.

David Kennard is the executive editor and publisher of the Troy Daily News. You can call him at 440-5228 or send him e-mail at kennard@tdnpublishing.com.

You can watch a Pinewood Derby race at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Miami Valley Centre Mall in Piqua.