The Ordinance of 1785 specified that Ohio would be surveyed into six-mile square townships. Each of these townships was sub-divided into 36 sections of one square mile or 640 acres. These sections would be further subdivided for re-sale. Roads still neatly follow these boundaries, creating a precise grid of squares. Three left (or right) turns would almost always get you back where you started.Bowling Green sits in the middle the Great Black Swamp, a massive wetland carved out by the glaciers. There was one tale of a railroad locomotive derailing and totally disappearing into the mucky swamp. In the mid-1800s, a massive network of ditches drained the swamp, emptying it into creeks and rivers, ultimately flowing into Lake Erie. This left thousands of acres of very flat, fertile soil – rapidly converted into productive farmland. Of course, this spurred an array of drain-tile plants throughout the area.
There was plenty of clay available, so every farm was covered with a network of clay drainage tiles. Most have been replaced by the long rolls of back plastic pipes. My brother Don’s first job was working in a clay drain-tile kilns. It did not dawn on me until I was out of high school that ditches were not necessary for every road. I just thought it was a mandatory part of all road construction.
After one snowstorm a milk truck pulled off the side of the road and completely disappeared, sinking through the snow that had drifted overnight, completely filling a deep ditch. We could not see the top of the truck from our house. (See the photo of Jan shoveling snow after the 1978 blizzard.)
Ditches of water nurtured large, pesky mosquitoes, which arrived in the spring and stayed until the first frost. It is impossible to sit outside in the late
evening hours without bug spray and a long sleeve shirt. Sensible people retreated to screened porches, but the nasty varmints still found us. The worst irritation was being awaken by one buzzing your head in the middle of the night. The only options were to pull the blanket over your head or turn on the light and pursue the invader.
One of greatest benefits of living in North Carolina has been the scarcity of serious mosquitoes. We have them here, but they are puny compared to the Buckeye State creatures. As water flows downhill, standing pools of water are rather scarce here.
Winds blow almost continually in Northwestern Ohio, as they roll across from the great plains, undeterred by mountains. Whatever weather Chicago had, we could expect the next day. These winds made cold winter days most unpleasant, as we hustled across campus, cutting through as many buildings as possible en route. Students quickly learned to bundle heavily in the winter months – which usually lasted through March.
The first sunny day in spring the temperature broke 50º brought the entire student body out in shorts, throwing Frisbees, sunning on towels, or just “strutting their stuff.” It was the era of short shorts and mini-skirts!