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Published: Sunday, 5/9/2010

Ernie's not long gone from our hearts

I enjoyed Dave Hackenberg's touching column about Ernie Harwell (“Legend touched many with voice, character,” May 6).

I listened to Ernie and George Kell before falling asleep with my mitt under the mattress, trying to coax out the perfect pocket. I was swept away to Briggs Stadium by Ernie's voice crackling through the newest technology of the time — the transistor radio. Ernie was a constant companion when I was growing up.

Three years ago, I was in Elkhart, Ind. at a blues festival. A friend of Ernie's took note of my Tiger baseball cap. The next thing I knew, I was on the phone talking to Ernie Harwell.

He was as gracious and generous with his time as if he were in the company of Al Kaline. We chatted for a few minutes, and then I asked Ernie for a favor: Give me a “long gone” before hanging up. Ernie laughed, and in the voice that used to stir dreams in a little boy he said: “I'm looooong gone.”

John Szozda

Rossford

The voice of Ernie Harwell may have been silenced on May 4, but the words of this charming, witty, and kind man will remain in the hearts of baseball fans forever.

Thank you, Ernie Harwell.

Patty Brogan Sorge

Harrow Road

Jack Lessenberry's op-ed column about Ernie Harwell (“Harwell enlivened and enriched baseball,” May 7) was a wonderful piece of writing in tribute to the Tigers' legendary announcer.

Mr. Lessenberry captured a piece of Detroit, with references to General Motors and Hudson's department store. I can recall driving in the car on a sunny weekend afternoon, listening to WJR and hearing Ernie call a home run that was “loooong gone.”

I may cut out Mr. Lessenberry's beautifully written piece and reread it now and then, to remember Ernie and what things used to be like in Detroit.

Larry Wagner

Georgetown Avenue

Strike three, and the batter was caught looking. “He was window shopping and watched too many pass him by.”

As my brother and I lay in our bunk beds on a hot July night, the thunderstorm raged and you could smell the summer rain. We listened to Ernie Harwell as the Tigers played a late game on the West Coast. When lightning would strike, the speaker on our little transistor radio filled with static.

“Here comes Kaline to the plate. He's batting .306 and leading the American League in RBIs. Men on first and third, bottom of the ninth, two outs. Rollie Fingers gets set. He delivers a line drive shot to right field. That ball is going, going, gone! A three-run homer for Kaline, and the Tigers take the lead.”

Thank you, Mr. Harwell, for the great memories.

Ron Zawisza

Rose Point Court

Thank you for your coverage of our efforts to spay/neuter and vaccinate 2,600 free-roaming cats in Toledo's 43609 ZIP Code (“Spay/Neuter activists aim to herd cats,” April 19).

We are collaborating with local animal shelters and rescue groups that have committed to take as many friendly strays and kittens into their adoption program as possible. The feral and wild cats that are returned to neighborhoods after they are spayed/neutered already live there. They are not being dumped. Many have caregivers who provide food, water, and shelter.

Humane Ohio is offering free training sessions for cat caretakers and making free cat food available. Not everyone enjoys living with cats in the yard or neighborhood, but spaying and neutering and responsible pet ownership are the only ways to reduce the free-roaming cat population humanely and ensure that there are fewer free-roaming cats to prey on birds and other wildlife.

Trapping and killing do not solve the problem, as new cats just move in. This program is working toward the goal of fewer unwanted cats. Cat lovers and those who do not like cats can agree this is a win-win.

Heather Dixon-Reimer

Coordinator

Humane Ohio

Tremainsville Road

I assume the teenager who was attacked by a “pit bull” on Upton Avenue on April 15 was not contacted for comment for your April 18 article “American pit bull terrier's image a bad rap, experts say.”

The Blade seems to have made a bit of a misfire, advocating enthusiastically on behalf of “pit bulls” three days after the unprovoked attack on the teen. Perhaps more people would be willing to pay to read The Blade if you were more objective and tactful.

Michael G. Klug

Latonia Boulevard

On May 2, my neighbor, 73, was attacked and bitten twice by a “pit bull.” My neighbors and I have often contacted the dog warden about this dog.

The warden was not able to seize the dog because the owner took it into the house. We were told that all seizures of dogs that bite are on hold until there is a ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court on a Toledo Municipal Court ruling striking down the city law that limits the number of “pit bull” dogs residents may own and requiring them to be muzzled when away from home.

The owners of that dog have three “pit bulls.” The female that bit my elderly neighbor is pregnant. This dog has also bitten a 14-year-old.

This dog should be taken from its owners and put down. How many more times will this dog be allowed to bite? My neighbors and I are afraid to be outside, fearing an attack.

Richard Meeker

Proctor Place

I can't drive down a Toledo street without fearing the loss of a tire. I see people standing on street corners begging for food, money, or a job.

Police presence is decreasing while burglaries increase. Friends and neighbors relocate because there are no jobs here.

Toledo is shattered under the weight of poor public educational systems and economic conditions. College graduates gravitate toward areas where there are more opportunities.

And all The Blade does is report on the doggie drama. I continue my subscription only to read the obituaries.

I am surprised dog and cat obits haven't started appearing yet. But let's not give The Blade staff any ideas.

Shaun Lowery

Parkside Boulevard

The federal government has spent billions of dollars to stimulate the economy, channeling the money through the private sector. The government can encourage hiring and create opportunities for job growth, but the private sector decides when and how many to hire.

During the past year, corporate profits have gone up. Worker productivity has risen more than in any other year since 1963. But unemployment remains stubbornly high.

You can understand that businesses are reluctant to hire

But corporate America seems to have forgotten the lesson taught by Henry Ford: hire and pay workers enough so they can afford to buy the products made by our economy.

Where are the jobs? All we can do is ask American businesses for an answer. They are responsible for making hiring decisions.

Bob Walker

Perrysburg



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