Canal boat model

My brother, Bill, made this model of the canal boat I wrote about in my novel, Impending Love and War available at The Wild Rose Press at http://goo.gl/CFQBd1

The Irish Rose was waiting for its turn to enter_MG_0702
Lock Fifteen where Captain Donovan would man the
tiller. Cory waved to Grandpa and her cousins Ethan
and Paddy. They had red hair and blue eyes. Ethan was
fifteen, tall and wiry, while Paddy, two years younger,
still had enough baby fat to make him look stocky.
The pilot, who had navigated the Irish Rose
through the locks, tossed a rope to Paddy. He tied it around the snubbing post in the ground to stop the boat
in the lock chamber. The pilot jumped off and collected his fee from Captain Donovan. He ushered everyone
aboard when two men closed the back gates of the lock.
“Hurry up, girl!”
Cory handed her basket to Grandpa, who took her arm and hauled her to the top of the stern cabin. Tyler
gave her a boost on her backside. She glared at him when he joined her on the cabin roof.
Three separate cabins were connected by a catwalk along the roofs. The stable cabin was in the center.
Three mules were stored inside to replace the three tied in tandem to the towline pulling the boat. The open
midship area was loaded with cargo.
Ethan climbed aboard after Tyler. “Who’s this?”_MG_3559
“Tyler Montgomery.” Cory made introductions while Ethan ran across the bow cabin and jumped to the
other side of the lock.
“Take over the tiller, darlin’.” Captain Donovan grabbed an eight-foot long wooden pole with a metal
tip called a pike. “Open the paddles.”
Ethan gripped a long metal wrench and turned a rod that ran from bottom to top on the wooden gate. It
opened a small paddle door in the bottom of the gate and water rushed out. Paddy did the same on the other
side.
“She’s a bit bumpy when we release the water.”
The captain shoved against the stone wall to keep the boat from hitting it.
Tyler grabbed Cory as the boat dropped along with the water level.
Ethan and Paddy closed the paddles when the water in the lock reached the level in the lower canal.
Ethan jumped on board, and Paddy released the line on the snubbing post. He tossed it to Ethan. Then he tossed
the team’s line to Ethan, who attached it to the boat’s deadeye on the bow deck. The two men who had closed
the back gates, opened the front gates by pushing on the balance beams.
“We’re ready to go down the canal,” Ethan shouted.
Paddy urged the mules to move and the boat jerked forward.
“Isn’t Cleveland up river?” Tyler asked.
“You’d think,” Cory answered. “But the Cuyahoga means crooked river. It flows south, hooks when it hits
the high ground of Akron, and curls around to head north, emptying into Lake Erie.” She made a hooking
motion with her hand.
The mules plodded along the well-worn towpath and pulled the boat through the canal water at a slow
and steady pace. Bullfrogs and crickets serenaded them as butterflies danced to the music. “Is this as fast as the
boat goes?” Tyler asked.
“They’re mules not race horses.” Cory swatted at a fly buzzing by her head.
Ethan gripped the edge of the board with his toes as he scurried along the catwalk. Captain Donovan
handed Ethan the pike and took the tiller handle from Cory.
Tyler still had his hands around Cory’s waist. “You can let go of my granddaughter.” Captain Donovan
looked at Cory. “Not much of a sailor, is he?”
Cory shrugged. “I told you he’s a lawyer.”
“He don’t look like a bookworm,” Ethan said.
“Might be worth training him to be a boatman.”
“He might be able to earn his fare.”
“I’m a fast learner.” Tyler winked at Cory.

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Celebrating 10 years as a reporter

I am a reporter with the Record Publishing Co. and wrote this column, which appeared in the Hudson Hub-Times newspaper at http://goo.gl/B07yFoIMG_8759

By Freeman of the Press

My tenth anniversary as a newspaper reporter with Record Publishing Co. arrives Feb. 1, 2015.

Since my beat has covered city Council meetings in Tallmadge and Hudson, that amounts to roughly 500 meetings I’ve attended. Covering government stories means I’ve reported on governors, senators, congressmen, judges and too many candidates to count, learning more about politics than any class in school.

Want your voice heard? Speak at a Council meeting during public comments. The meetings are televised, sending your message to viewers, the city officials and your city representative.

Will it result in change? Sometimes, the argument is more emotional than practical and fails, but other times words have impact. I know. I write them.

Someone asked me how I make sense out of the meetings. The hardest part is filling in the blanks — the things not said by members of Council. Sometimes a handout, resolution or phone call answers the questions. But time reveals whether the decision was good or bad.

Another key to writing a story, any story, is to focus on the problem. What are Council members talking about? What is the decision they have to make? The answer is the story.

Another part of being a reporter is community news. I’ve seen businesses open, close, celebrate anniversaries and change ownership. Mayor William Currin is a familiar face at ribbon cuttings.

I remember when Main Street Cupcakes opened and I sampled some of the cupcakes. There were some doubts a cupcake-only business would survive, but it’s thriving.

Some businesses, like Hershey’s and The Learned Owl Book Shop, changed owners, while Lager & Vine took on a new name with new ownership.

Hudson is known for its events, fundraisers and holiday celebrations. I was around when the Fourth of July fireworks were canceled in 2006 due to a lack of funds, but they’ve returned every year since. The worst experience occurred on a warm summer night when the last blast exploded into a torrential downpour, sending everyone dashing for their cars.

Other holidays included children dressed in Halloween costumes and an annual stocking contests with the Green decorated for Christmas. The biggest festivals were the Harry Potter celebrations when thousands dressed as characters from the J.K. Rowling books. It was my job to attend, but it also was fun to share in the enthusiasm of the crowd.

Schools and children are a major focus in the community. I’ve interviewed young entrepreneurs who sell lemonade; students testing the water in a stream restoration project at the high school; future lawyers in a courtroom practicing for a mock trial; actors preparing for a play or musical; and photographing graduates stepping on stage to receive a diploma.

A favorite past time is covering the annual Challenger game when Special Olympic kids play football against the Hudson Hawks seventh-grade team. High school players help mentor, and the band and cheerleaders encourage everyone as they score. Plan to attend in August.

Those are the happy memories. Others are sadder. The deaths of men and women I’ve come to know — Mayor John Krum, Council member John Jeffers, Peter McDonald, Dick Malson and others who have impacted the community and left a mark.

The most difficult job was covering the funeral of  U.S. Marine LCpl. Daniel Nate Deyarmin Jr., 22, killed Aug. 1, 2005, in Haditha, Iraq. He was the first casualty in our coverage area and, unfortunately, not our last. I also covered the funeral of U.S. Army 2nd Lt. David Rylander, 23, of Stow, who was killed May 2, 2012, in Logar Province, Afghanistan.

I covered five murders — Philip and Sarah Gehring who were murdered in New Hampshire by their father, who drove across the country, burying them in a clearing off Terex Road; Marci Kornblut who was murdered by her husband; and Patricia and John Knudson murdered by her son and his brother.

Then there are the children with cancer or some other life threatening disease. And although you hope your words help them fight the battle, some lose the fight.

The biggest challenge is to make the words count, influence or impact others. I hope I have succeeded most of the time and will continue to reach out in print. Thank you for reading.

Email: lfreeman@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9434

Twitter: @LauraFreeman_RP