Fond year-end memories of Dickens-like McDonald

Fond year-end memories of Dickens-like McDonald

The closing out of another year makes me recall how things have changed. I was raised in a small quiet village almost three quarters of a century ago. The novel by Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol,” comes to mind.

Everyone wanted to live in McDonald, a community that offered wholesome family living.

A company town created by Carnegie Steel Co. employed about 3,500 workers. The stirring little village had many people coming and going for its three shifts at the mill; a bumpering trail of traffic passed through the heart of the village at the end of each shift.

As a small village, we had benefits (virtues) many larger towns never had. The village had a YMCA teaching swimming lessons at McDonald High School. We also had basketball and tennis courts with record hops on Friday nights, and a baseball field within a home run hit of a church.

Beautiful Woodland Park, with its summer time activities for the children, old movies reeled in the park on the side of a sloping hill. The mill supplied the Halloween bonfire wood with blocking from the trains, a two-day burn. Village employees plowed the sidewalks in the winter, as we ice-skated in a dugout pond all viewed from the heart of town.

Two barbershops clipped the village: Bill Ague’s shop with walls covered with school photos, and Lee Grant’s, where he cut your hair and sold cars on the phone simultaneously.

We had Boy Scout Troops 46 and 48 that taught good values to its young citizens.

James Dean did not have anything on us; the old water tower building at the edge of town was the meeting place, and clubhouse of “The Strokers Hot Rod Club.” With its “radioactive” custom cars. I shall remember this as, The Ghost of Christmas Past.

Paul R. Lawson, McDonald

Thousands of retirees face peril if Ohio bill is passed

Retired Ohioans who receive a pension from the Ohio Public Employee Retirement System should become familiar with House Bill 413, which is currently in the House Committee on Aging and Long Term Care.

OPERS contends that although the financial state of the system is strong, it needs to reduce benefits to protect against future substantial downturns in the economy. The pain that would be inflicted on retirees, most of whom are not able to return to work to supplement their pensions, is unnecessary given that OPERS’ 2017 investment returns are double their target of 7.5 percent annually, according to a report presented at its board of trustees meeting this month.

The additional billions of dollars OPERS achieved would easily cover an unrealized loss of $2.8 billion OPERS must recognize at the end of the year and allow the system to remain strong. It is morally wrong to remove vested benefits from those who made decisions to retire based on promises OPERS provided at the time of retirement.

I urge OPERS retirees to contact their state representatives and senators and tell them to vote “No” on HB 413.

Geoff Hetrick, Westerville

Geoff Hetrick is president and CEO of Public Employees Retirees, Inc.

Fast-food workers in US deserve a decent wage

I read an article about why fast-food wages are so low. America’s 4 million fast-food workers’ average pay is around $300 a week, before taxes. Pretty low, isn’t it? So, why don’t they just go to another franchise that offers a better deal? It’s because most fast-food chains have hidden in their contracts “no hire agreements” that prohibit one franchise from hiring another’s employees.

All of these greedy fast-food giants are un-American and could care less about their employees. That’s why it’s essential that the minimum wage be raised to $15 an hour. Fast-food workers are not all high schoolers or part-timers; they have families to support, they have bills to pay, so why shouldn’t they receive a living wage?

With all of the dirty old men (including President Donald Trump) we have in Washington and in Congress, you would think that somebody sane, either in the House or Senate would put forth a bill that would make 65 the mandatory retirement age. At 65 take your millions you’ve accumulated over the years, take your hefty pension and get out. If you assaulted or harassed women or young men before that, then you deserve no pension, but jail time.

Some of the low-life things that Trump said and did while running for president should never be shoved aside; they should be out there for everyone to see and hear. He is on tape telling everybody how he handles women and puts his hands up under their dresses, but then he condemns everyone else who is doing the same thing he does. That is the height of shamelessness. Even an anti-American like Mitch McConnell says he believes the women who have come forward with their allegations of sexual misconduct, but Trump as one of the gang of abusers sticks with the abusers. He would rather have sexual predators in Congress than a Democrat. That’s about par for this fake president. The people of Alabama are smarter than he thought.

Bud McKelvey, Hermitage

Heroin epidemic strikes whites disproporionately

According to a CBS News report, the heroin epidemic kills 23 Ohioans a week. Though it strikes all ethnicities, it affects whites disproportionately. Paul Starr, sociologist and professor at the Princeton University said, “Contrary to what many Americans believe, drug overdoses are no longer concentrated among minorities; in fact, drug-related deaths are higher among whites.”

This trend was in motion as far back as 1990 but didn’t surface until late 2015. In a study, economists Angus Deaton and Ann Case found that the death rate of middle-class whites had edged closer to that of blacks’ while the death rate of affluent whites continued to decline. Interesting was the stat that the death rate of the Hispanic population was lower than the blacks’.

According to the study, many of the deaths were due to suicide, alcoholism and drug overdoses. Scholars like sociologist Barbara Enrenreigh, and others were alarmed. Enrenreigh tried to make sense of the suicide phenomenon.

Whites have more guns. Most economists agree, however, that many of the deaths were in some way related to the deindustrialization that happened in the 1980s and 1990s. In other words, the job loss led to sadness and eventually to what economist called, “deaths to despair.”

The period from 1945 to 1990 best explains why heroin deaths affect whites disproportionatey. In 1945, the nation’s GNP was $2 trillion. By the time of the Kennedy assassinations, it had swelled to well over $5 trillion. World War II had created a strong white working class. Their standard of living was the world’s highest. They had the best of everything.

The white working class dominated the big-money jobs. Many of those jobs had been in the family for generations. The economic advantage was theirs and they believed that that’s the way it was supposed to be. The founding fathers intended it.

There was a particular emotional attachment to those jobs. No other group could possibly understand the joy and security that the white worker felt. At that time, blacks were only two or thee generations removed from slavery.

When their economic base relocated, they were devastated. To them it was like losing a loved one. It became difficult to maintain those big homes. Depression set in. When some people hurt, they find ways to alleviate the pain.

Alfred Spencer, Warren