Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Farewell to Mike Celizic

I just received word that Mike Celizic, my old friend, has passed away. I didn't really believe it when I learned from Mike himself last month that he had but weeks to live. Mike was a vital life force, full of fierce energy. It's hard to think of that as ever ending, dying. But Mike is gone and we are left to honor him and celebrate his life and work.

Mike was a proud Croation-American, from the Painesville, Ohio area (Leroy Township, to be exact). He grew up about 20-25 miles from my home in Euclid, Ohio. If you visit Leroy, you will pass Celizic Road, named for his family, and Capp's Tavern, formerly owned by his family. About five miles north is St. Mary's School, where Mike got his grade school education, and Riverside High School, where he played football and got a solid base for his education at the University of Notre Dame (that's where I met him). Not far from St. Mary's and Riverside were the offices of the Painesville Telegraph, Mike's first job after college, where the stage was set for his illustrious career in journalism. I'm guessing there are many friends and relatives in the Painseville/Greater Cleveland area in mourning today with the news of Mike's passing.

Mike wrote some seven books (how he did this in addition to his regular journalism activities I don't know). My daughters all read "Rudy's Rules," co-authored by Mike and Rudy Ruettiger, the famous Notre Dame walk-on football player (and now motivational speaker). My favorite book of Mike's was "The Biggest Game of Them All: Notre Dame, Michigan State, and the Fall of 1966."

Mike is in the Painseville/Riverside Hall of Fame (I nominated him and helped induct him).

There is a beautiful obituary of him at the following site:

Rest in Peace, Mike.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Notre Dame-Innsbruck Friends from 1967-68

The 1967-68 Notre Dame Innsbruck Program:

The top photo looks like something out of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and the Magical Mystery Tour! It shows some of the Ehrlerstrasse Pension gang drinking beer, strumming guitars, and wearing funny hats (the hats belonged to Steve Shields). Included here are Mike Celizic (seriously ill these days), Chris Cotter, Steve Shields, and Mike Gerrity. The special effects in this photo are the products of chance, time, the print being rolled up in a tube for years, blood, sweat, tears, and probably some measure of alcohol.
The bottom photo shows 5 members of the Notre Dame-Innsbruck Program, probably in September of 1967 at "Eisriesenwelt," gigantic ice caves outside Salzburg, Austria. In this photo you can see Steve Shields (died in Vietnam, circa 1972); Charlie Bradley; Brian Wilson; Bob Coughlin; Mike Gerrity. There was quite a scary hike to get to the caves, including a trek across a cliff face (holding on to cable affixed to the rock). I can't remember who took this photo.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Montana Conservation Corps--A Dad's Perspective

My daughter Carolan has worked as an MCC (Montana Conservation Corps) crew leader this summer and has lived in the Bob Marshall/Great Bear Wilderness. This past hitch she was near Inspiration Point and Sunburst Lake, rerouting and maintaining trails. I found this out last evening when she called me from the Spotted Bear Ranger Station. During the past ten-day hitch, she and her crew have lived in tents; in fact, they have lived in tents most of the summer. Most of the summer Carolan, Adam, and their crew (Lemmy, Evan, Barry, Elisheba, and Mark) have lived and worked near Strawberry Creek, just west of the Continental Divide. At times they camped by Sabido Cabin, and other times near a branch of Strawberry to the north of Sabido. If I understand correctly, Sabido is about 20 miles from Schafer Meadows Ranger Station, which is about 14 miles from the Morrison Creek/Skyland trailhead, where Carolan has parked her car most of the summer. In other words, she and here crew have lived a 2-day walk from what we in the "real world" (Carolan's words) think of as civilization.

As a Dad, I glory in the stories and photos that have come back our way to Northeast Ohio. I love that her food and mail come via mule train. I love the way these seven young people have learned to live and work together. They have done such good work in the Wilderness, a service to the state of Montana, the United States of America, and even Planet Earth itself. Presuming to speak for all these entities, I'll say, "Thank You!"

In the beginning of my daughter's MCC adventure, I worried about grizzly bears, mountain lions, black bears, grey wolves, and all the wild things that can potentially harm a person living in the wilderness. Turns out that they haven't had many encounters with dangerous wild animals, and when they see one they feel lucky, blessed. Carolan and her companions won't forget that rare glimpse of a grizzly browsing along Strawberry Creek. So I have stopped worrying so much about bears and mountain lions (still worry a little, I admit).

I've also worried a bit about their health. Say they broke a leg two days from help; or someone suffered a burst appendix or a thousand other health emergencies, big and little. So far they have escaped major medical problems. But I'm sure they've lived with a lot of minor problems, colds, headaches, sore throats, stomach aches, etc. These guys are tough hombres, who can't run to the medicine cabinet or doctor for every complaint.

Every day I check the weather in Carolan's vicinity, using the Weather Underground website. Of course there usually isn't a weather station right nearby, so I end up researching the weather in Hungry Horse or East Glacier Park or Choteau or someplace like that. I've noticed that fall is approaching in the Montana mountains and that night temperatures are often in the 30's (and these guys are usually in tents!). I guess the next hitch they will be sleeping at Spotted Bear, in cabins. On actual mattresses, for God's sake!

Another thing I do is study maps and handbooks about trails in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex. I also use Google to find images near where her crew works. I've even located some videos on Youtube that help me picture their work and living environment (there are several videos of small planes landing at the Schafer Meadows airstrip). I do other things, like check in with the MCC Krew blog, (which I think is so interesting and wonderful that it should be published as a book), and go to the Glacier National Park website and look at their many webcams. These images are not exactly what Carolan is experiencing, but she is not far away from these places.

My wife and I have discovered two mystery novels set in The Bob, near Schafer Meadows. One story, by Beth Hodder, is called The Ghost of Schafer Meadows; the other, just out, is called Stealing the Wild. Beth and her husband worked for the Forest Service for many years, living at Schafer Meadows and working throughout The Bob and know this landscape intimately. These books have also helped us understand my daughter and her crew's working and living environment. In a strange coincidence, we have discovered that Beth Hodder and I both grew up in Euclid, Ohio, and graduated from high school the same year. The website for her books is:

So I have vicariously followed the adventures of Carolan and Adam's wilderness crew. And once this summer my wife Linda and I were able to visit the MCC office in Kalispell and then actually meet up with Carolan for a day at Glacier National Park.

All in all it has been great fun, a wonderful trip!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Megan and Kurt's Wedding

Some photos from the wedding of Megan Sanders and Kurt Hartfelder, Columbus, Ohio, August 28, 2010:
1. Top: Megan and Kurt.
2. Second: Karla and Megan; Christina Sanders, background right.
3. Third: Emily Coughlin, Rachel Sanders, Jill Springmyer (cousins).
4. Sue Sanders holding Colin Jude Kleppel (he was about 10 days old!).
5. Bottom: Coughlin, Sanders, and Kleppel cousins.