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We Are The Champions: Ohio History Center exhibit pays homage to sports

Kevin J. Elliott

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Established in 1974, the National Women’s Football League was a perfect reflection of the times, a groundbreaking movement that mirrored the social landscape. At the height of women’s liberation, the N.O.W., and Billie Jean King’s “Battle of the Sexes,” the full-contact contests held by the NWFL promoted that same statement of equality for women in sports—and in Ohio, the Toledo Troopers won seven consecutive championships in the league, which have to this day, made them the winningest franchise in all of professional football. That the Troopers hold such a coveted record and tell a story of gender politics mostly unheard, is a common theme that runs through Ohio—Champion of Sports, the new exhibit at the Ohio History Center. 

At first, the title of the exhibit is a seemingly audacious, and very Ohioan, statement to make. Champion of (all) sports? Though Ohio natives are as passionate about their teams as any other state in the country, the exhibit gives an almost inherent right to the claim. Our traditions run deep. Our superstars— from Bobby Rahal to Lebron James—have achieved the highest pinnacle of glory. But throughout the museum there are a multitude of stories, like that of the Troopers, that shape that narrative beyond championships.

“Telling the national story of sports can be tough without including Ohio in there,” says the Ohio History Center’s curator Eric Feingold. “Whether you’re talking about the birth of the National Football League or the All-American Soapbox Derby in Akron, to some of the more prominent stories, such as Ohio State football, Ohio has really contributed to this story in major ways.”

The fully-interactive exhibit is divided into six thematic zones—including Character, Adversity, Innovation, Identity, Tradition, and Victory—where each attribute is shown through the lens of Ohio sports. The “Victory” wing, for example, is anchored by the triumph of local boxer Buster Douglas’ unlikely defeat of Mike Tyson, while “Innovation” highlights Ohio’s role in the evolution of the soapbox “gravity racers” used in derbys. “Identity,” by comparison, challenges the shameful use of the Cleveland Indians’ longtime mascot Chief Wahoo, while “Adversity” tells the tale of Youngstown pitcher Dave Dravecky’s World Series dream shattered by cancer. 

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Even the diehard Ohio sports fan will find something they may have never known. While it’s common knowledge that Ohio State and the University of Cincinnati dominated the NCAA men’s basketball tourneys of the early ‘60s, there are stories like that of the UC Bearcats being the first team to start four African-American players, illuminating how these teams and athletes were breaking barriers as well as records and stats. Or even the hidden minutiae of small-town Hiram College becoming the first basketball team to bring home an Olympic gold for the United States. 

“The exhibit is a new approach,” says Feingold of the non-traditional way in which Champion of Sports was designed. “Generally museums are object-driven, but in this case, we’ve worked with athletes, coaches, and fans to collect their oral histories. It’s this idea that you want to try to acquire objects as you’re going along and getting these stories from the people involved.” 

Still, there are over 200 objects procured from the museum’s permanent collection, other museums, like the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton,  and from private collections, that bring to life these stories—spotlighted are Lebron James autographed rookie jersey and a full-scale Airstream, that “may or may not have” instigated the first examples of traditional “tailgating.” 

As a intentional gesture, the exhibit is not just static with the objects; there are displays of videos that show those oral histories, and fun kiosks to record your own victory dances, but it’s those objects that look forward that have the most pull. Some of Feingold’s favorite pieces in the exhibit come from just a few years back and the creation of Ohio Roller Derby. In that, the museum aims to battle preconceived notions about the strategy of the sport, showing how it’s not a gimmick, but instead a compelling labor of love for the dedicated athletes who participate.

“This is an exhibit more about the human experience and the human condition,” says Feingold. “These objects highlight the intersection of sports and larger issues. Sports is just the entryway into a lot of larger themes.”

Ohio—Champion of Sports is now open at the Ohio History Center. Visit ohiohistory.org for hours and more information.

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Recap: See how Columbus showed its Pride this weekend

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Stonewall celebrated 38 years of Columbus LGBTQ Pride this past weekend. All across the city, people, places, and things were adorn in rainbows, glitter, and love.

Didn’t make it out for the festivities? Check out what you missed below!

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🦄 🍦 🏳️‍🌈

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Happy Pride Weekend Columbus! Make sure to stop by Provisions on High or Gallerie Bar & Lounge for themed treats!

Posted by Hilton Columbus Downtown on Saturday, June 15, 2019
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Pride parades always make me emotional & 9 times out of 10 I cry. Columbus pride choked me up in a way that no other pride celebration has. Columbus’s parade had so many corporations marching such as Amazon, Target, DSW, Express, Starbucks, Budlight, Lays,etc. but what honestly gave me goosebumps was the amount of religious organizations & churches that marched for equality. Even the Columbus public school district marched with many children in attendance. It was absolutely beautiful to see the love & acceptance that filled the streets of Columbus on Saturday! This got me thinking about how 100s of 1,000s of people across the world gather each June to celebrate pride. Pride parades & festivals are happening every weekend in the United States. Yet it takes one person, one organization, one parent to spew hatred to one member of the LGBTQIA+ community that makes them feel rejected, unwanted, & ostracized. That is how powerful & poisonous hatred is. Beliefs, values, & opinions are not sticks used to beat others that don’t agree with you. They are simply factors that help shape someone to be who they are & create a path for their life. This doesn’t just go for the LGBTIA+ community but for race, all religions, gender, individual with disabilities, politics, socioeconomic status, etc. We need to love more. Being kind costs nothing. And to remember that it takes one encounter with hatred to block out 100s of 1,000s acts of acceptance & celebration! ❤️🧡💛💚💙 #pride🌈 #lgbtq🌈 #pflagmom #pflag #columbuspride #columbuspride2019 #ninawest #bekind #gowest #rupaulsdragrace #loveyourkids

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Take a ride with local business Classic Ford Broncos

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Bucolic views of rural Powell, Ohio stream past at an impressive clip as the driver presses down on the accelerator. A throaty roar issues from the exhaust. We might be going 50 mph, or it might be closer to 70—for some reason, the lack of a roof on the vehicle makes it harder to judge. (That, and and the disorienting effect of my “rock ‘n’ roll” hairstyle whipping about my face in ever-changing directions.)

The truck is a rolling anachro-nism. By all outward appearances, it is a pristine, burnt-orange Ford Bronco in the classic body style of its first iteration, produced from 1966 through 1977. But from a glimpse
of the modern suspension components underneath and the aggressive sounds emanating from the tailpipe, and it’s clear something is not as it seems. 

Photos: Brian Kaiser

This Bronco is a “restomod” (a portmanteau of restoration and modification) of that first-generation Bronco. It is one of between 35 and 40 that Bryan Rood’s company, the aptly-named Classic Ford Broncos, will produce in a given year. Carrying a price tag of $200,000, it is also one of the most expensive terrestrial vehicles I have ever ridden in.

Like many things a man will do throughout his lifetime, Rood started selling old Ford Broncos because of a woman.  

“I was invited to the Kentucky Derby 10 years ago for a bachelor party. We were walking to the Derby with a group of girls that we met the night before,” Rood explains from his office in the Classic Ford Broncos facility near Powell. “There was an old Bronco for sale on the side of the road, and one of the girls thought the Bronco was cool, so I bought it just to try to impress the girl.”

Rood doesn’t elaborate as to what happened with the woman, but what became of that first Bronco set him on the path to a lucrative career in the automotive restoration game.

Upon returning to Columbus with the truck, Rood could not take it out without entertaining unsolicited offers of purchase. Eventually, he hit upon a deal too good to pass up, selling the Bronco which he initially purchased for $3,500 to a buyer at $8,000.

It occurred to Rood that if he could achieve this kind of return on an old Bronco, maybe he could repeat his success with another. It followed that if people would pay for an unrestored Bronco, maybe a fresh coat of paint and a tune up would up the ante.

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“When I first started messing with them, I was selling them for under 15 grand,” Rood explains of his fledgling business. “It’s not that they weren’t popular, there was just a very different following for them back then. They were kind of a mud truck, or just a cheap, old, beat-up farm truck that some people thought were cool.”

Within a year, Rood had hired a full-time mechanic. Ten years on, his company employs a staff of around 15 in a 10,000 square-foot facility—the largest Bronco restoration shop in
the country.

The approach to the Broncos themselves has also changed considerably over the years, moving from restoration of engine parts, interiors and paint to all new custom bodies built in-shop, nestled on a classic Ford Bronco frame with modern performance drivetrain and suspension components included.

In keeping with advances in his process, Rood’s clientele has also changed over the years. He now marks major-league athletes and captains of industry among those for whom he’s built a Bronco. On the day I visited his operation, his crew were working on a tasteful sage green Bronco commissioned by Kelly Clarkson. 

“Almost exclusively, they’re going to beach towns or lake houses,” says Rood. “It’s the ultra-high net worth clientele that are buying these things, because Jeeps aren’t cool enough.”

The Broncos Rood and company create are a statement piece—a summer-home vehicle for the finance set who can drop 200k on a weekend toy without batting an eye. Despite the hefty price tag, Rood explains that the owners of his restorations aren’t afraid to get his creations dirty, even if farm-field mud is swapped for sand from beaches in the Hamptons.

Undaunted by the sticker price? Interested in grabbing one of Rood’s Broncos? You’ll have to get in line—at any given time, he has a list of 25-30 customers in contract. You’ll also need some cash, as you can’t finance one of Rood’s creations—it’s a cash deal, with a 10% deposit due up front as a show of good faith.

And don’t believe for a second that your $200,000 buys the right to dictate every aspect of the build. With most of his business coming via word of mouth, Rood sees his Broncos as rolling billboards for his company. There are some things he simply will not do. No 20” rims, no wacky interiors—not at any price.

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The most charming B&B is just 4 minutes from Bethel Road

Regina Fox

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Nestled on a quiet private property just four short minutes from the bustle of Bethel Road is the most charming B&B I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing.

It was a cool and rainy day in June when my mom and I pulled into the winding driveway of Timbrook Guesthouse. Jill Dole, the owner of the property, greeted us at the door with exceptional warmth and lead us up the stairs to the most-requested room at the B&B: The East Wing Suite.

My mom and I dropped out bags and started exploring. Coming from a studio apartment in Olde Towne East where my 6’x6′ bathroom functions also as a closet, storage facility, and laundry room, I crushed on the massive soaker tub. We investigated all the room’s trinkets and cubbies, remarking things like, “Oooh, look at this!” and, “Wow, this is so cool!” The textures of the Cherry wood bed made me want to sink right in for the night, but there was much to see.

Our room was adjacent to one that offered comfortable chairs to sit and admire a view of the property below. This room was also filled with interesting horse riding equipment, like saddles and bags slung over the ceiling beam; a box of life lessons and advise; bird, nautical, and other unique tchotchkes; artwork of all different subjects and mediums; and plants that looked like they could be older than both my mom and I combined.

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Items like these littered every room in the house—to the downstairs living room, to the foyer—in the most perfectly way, offering an insight into the tastes and travels of the Dole family. Strolling through the B&B was really like taking a journey through an antique mall of family artifacts. Whether it was about the hat collections or decades-old pieces of furniture, my mom and I never lacked something to gab about.

Despite the steady rain, we ventured outside to admire the thriving gardens. All around the 4-acre property, healthy foliage springs from the earth. My mom identified the flowers—bleeding hearts, hydrangeas, peonies—as I listened carefully for the telling “squawks” of these parrots I’d heard so much about. And then, we heard it.

Jill protects the birds in the garden barn during inclement weather, which is exactly where we found the five colorful birds. Using their beaks and claws to travel across the enormous cage, all the birds wanted a front row view of the new strangers. They were so curious! They flapped, flared their feathers, and mimicked our laughing, even after we left the garage. Truly a hoot…er, squawk.

Unfortunately, the rain prevented us from taking advantage of the hot tub and pool, but it didn’t stop us from admiring them. The vibrant ellipse-shaped swimming pool might just be the most beautiful swimming pool I’d ever seen. And with the landscaping around the hot tub, it’s like a true exotic spa escape. Next time.

Another one of Timbrook’s crown jewel amenities is a greenhouse filled with tropical trees and orchids. An intoxicatingly sweet smell it us like a ton of, well, orchids when we entered the plant sanctuary. The sizable greenhouse is filled with tropical plants, both big and small, plus garden ornaments hidden like cute easter eggs throughout.

My mom and I ended our night by wrapping up in the warm Timbrook robes and having a living room picnic by the light of the fire.

The smell of bacon (and my alarm) woke us up. We opened the door to the balcony and talked about how wonderful it’d be to start each day with a sunny outdoor patio.

After inquiring about our night’s sleep, Jill served up fruit smoothies followed by blueberry pancakes and bacon. The great food was made even better with the garden-themed dishes and low music that filled the breakfast nook. If the Timbrook does one thing well, it’s attention to detail.

It was hard living the cozy abode, but, after having such a lovely experience, I felt a little bit better knowing I’d be back.

Timbrook Guesthouse is located at 5811 Olentangy River Road, 
Columbus. To learn more about the B&B and inquire about booking, visit timbrookguesthouse.com.

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