After a political rant, say goodbye to two brave men

The email for that first week of 2022 was about enough to send me into a Lee Elia-type tirade about career politicians with great teeth and salon hair.

For those who don’t know Lee Elia, after his brief career in Major League Baseball, he briefly coached the Chicago Cubs in 1982-83. In a moment of overly honest frustration, he had a small collapse (not recommended for young people) on April 29, 1983. A reporter secretly recorded it. The rest is history. Lee has long retired in Florida.

But I can understand its 1983 collapse.

Over the past week, my newspaper inbox and my personal inbox have been inundated with correspondence from politicians showing up for everything from Rob Portman’s US Senate seat to Mike DeWine’s governor’s seat.

Republicans for either seat pledge to be more conservative than Portman and DeWine (that shouldn’t be too difficult), while Democrats criticize even their most liberal policies. (Some people don’t like it.)

I have been invited to morning coffee, midday lunches and various events related to these respective campaigns. As I enter my fourth decade (fifth, in all honesty) of newspaper writing, it still amazes me that these politicians actually think they are special. They are not. They work for us – or are supposed to. We don’t work for them.

The office of one of them, who shares my Irish last name, actually offered directions for the Highland District Hospital this week. This elicited some well-deserved laughs at The Highland County Press Office.

On the one hand, thanks to the recent actions of my daughter and my son-in-law which have prolonged my life, I know HDH very well. On the other hand, my wife, Pam, is one of the oldest medical professionals in the building. For a third thing, The Highland County Press and Highland District Hospital are on the same street in Hillsboro. We have a very good relationship. Especially with the good guys in the emergency room.

I don’t think we need any direction. But thanks anyway.

Here is my advice to all of you – whatever the capital letter after your last name – running for the governor of Ohio, the General Assembly, the United States Senate, Congress or county commission, or even an elder. Door-to-door vacuum salesperson can serve as well as anyone else: if you want free publicity, call someone who donates a flying frog.

Otherwise, go up and buy an ad. Maybe we will publish it. Maybe not. I’ve turned down political ads before and I certainly don’t need the aggravation that often accompanies them.

If you want to talk about real, honest work, maybe I’ll entertain you for five or ten minutes. Meanwhile, comb through your hair and brush on those pearly whites. You’re not all of that, anyway.

* * *

• On a much more serious note, let me share a few thoughts on Mr. Larry Cole, who passed away Jan. 4 at Bethesda North Hospital.

Reading Larry’s obituary, I didn’t realize he had six siblings, all of whom died before him. I knew his brother, Jon “Joe” Cole.

I first met Larry and Joe about 50 years ago at Hillsboro Baseball Park. Both men were great role models for young people back then – and for many years to come. A Friday night football game at Richards Memorial Field just wasn’t over if Larry and Joe weren’t there.

In addition to his support for local student-athletes, I also remember Larry for his years of service with the Hillsboro Lions Club. He always put community service first.

Memorial contributions on Larry’s behalf can be made to Hillsboro High School Sports Boosters. Turner & Son Funeral Home serves the family. Condolences can be sent to the family by visiting

Larry was one of the good men who did a lot more for the community than most of us will ever know. There remains a local icon. He and Mary are together again. Good luck.

* * *

• Another icon, this one in the country music world, recently moved to the stage at the Grand Ole Opry above.

Legendary Steel Hall of Fame radio host and guitarist Ray “Chubby” Howard of Franklin passed away December 23, 2021. Chubby was born June 5, 1926 in Goose Rock, Ky., Son of Clemia Mae Bowling and John Henry Howard. .

When my son, Colin, was a young teenager and helped give birth The Highland County Press, we often listened to the Chubby Saturday Morning Radio Show at 10:90 am Some winter mornings, particularly in February 2010, when I had another Lee Elia seizure after shoveling snow from the snow. Sidewalks along our old West Main Street office to the old Magee’s restaurant, I looked forward to the Chubby radio show that featured “real” country music.

I can’t say for sure that Colin was looking forward to those days, but I did.

Ten years ago I wrote a brief tribute to Chubby Howard. It started like this: “One of those Saturday mornings I’m hoping Chubby Howard plays Buck Owens’ They’re Gonna Put Me in the Movies and dedicates it to Colin Ryan.

And all he has to do is “Act naturally”.

OKAY. Maybe the song is actually “Act Naturally”. I am not sure.

What I’m sure is Buck Owens’ song was part of the “Remember the Titans” soundtrack. And Colin and I love this movie.

It’s possible that Colin’s dad – and both of his grandfathers – enjoyed old-school country music a lot more than he did. It’s OK.

When Chubby Howard wasn’t hanging out at Tudor’s Biscuit World in Xenia – for years, he could be heard on WKFI AM 1090 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. most Saturdays. Yes, indeed, a six hour radio show. And we (I) enjoyed every minute of it.

Whether Chubby was talking about the Jamestown Bean Festival (I love beans and cornbread, but don’t forget the raw diced onions on top), or scrambled eggs, sausage and blueberry pancakes at Tudor’s, Chubby was the perfect host for a classic country music radio show.

In fact, as I said a decade ago, Chubby brought to classic country what Marty Brennaman brought to Reds baseball on radio.

Chubby’s co-hosts (whom I remember) were Wyatt McCubbin and Tyler Fairburn. This weekend, Tyler hosted the conclusion of a beautiful radio tribute to their boyfriend, Chubby. I know he would be happy.

I already miss my Saturday morning road trips with Colin – and without Chubby sharing his great country music stories from days gone by. Heaven has a new steel player in the all-time squad.

Rory Ryan is publisher and owner of The Highland County Press.