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Published: Tuesday, 7/25/2006

Toledo airport name game one for the funny pages

"So, what is this I hear about renaming Toledo Express Airport?"

This was yesterday. It was my first day back after a long-but-too-short vacation, and I was trying to catch up.

Time off work is good, but it has a way of being too effective - as in, "mind erasing." I couldn't remember any nascent Rename the Airport movement taking root before I left town.

So I started asking around.

"When did all this start? And whose idea was it, anyway?" I asked my usual well-informed source, The Fly on The Wall, who sighed deeply at the question.

"Oh, that," shrugged The Fly. "It started on the radio - you know how those things go - and then Rob Ludeman got all thumbs-up about it."

The Fly's explanation provoked one of my typical trenchant follow-up questions.

"Radio? Ludeman? Huh?"

The Fly sighed again.

"OK, I'm only gonna say this once, so pay attention. Shores and Steele - you know, the twang jockeys on that country station - they started banging the drums to get more recognition for Danny Thomas, and "

I just had to interrupt.

"As in, Danny Thomas, the comedian from the 1950s? That Danny Thomas?"

"The one and the same," The Fly confirmed.

"Why," I couldn't help but ask, "does he need an airport named for him?"

"Because," said The Fly slowly, in his best You-Are-An-Idiot tone of voice, "Danny Thomas is a famous native son."

"Famous? I don't want to rain on anyone's parade here, but could there be any better way to express our collective 'out of touch' quotient than by renaming the airport for some entertainer who peaked during television's Golden Age?"

Another Fly sigh.

"It's not just because he's a midcentury celebrity," The Fly said. "Pro-Danny Thomas forces feel the former Toledoan should be honored for his noteworthy founding of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital."

"Ohhh. Good point," I said, effectively shut down. "St. Jude's, eh? Isn't that the Saint Something Or Other Hospital over on Cherry Street?"

The Fly didn't sigh this time. He gulped.

"Well, not exactly," he said. "Actually, St. Jude's is in, um, Memphis."

"Tennessee?! OK, that puts the whole renaming business right back to a simple matter of celebrity - 50-year-old celebrity, at that."

"Well," The Fly said feebly, "the city council president liked the idea!"

"If Rob Ludeman would have merely nodded politely, none of this would have traction," I groused.

And then, inspiration hit.

"Hey," I squeaked, "if we really want to stamp the airport with a famous Toledo name known far and wide, let's just pick one of our many, many homegrown white-collar criminals!"

The Fly couldn't really argue.



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