Now we are ten

First, a note about the photo (also, I wouldn’t be surprised if I went to high school with the children of some of these people). I wanted a birthday party photo, so I went straight to the Toledo-Lucas County Library collection and they offered me something festive because today, August 16, 2020, marks the tenth anniversary of Toledo History Box.

It was always my intention to indulge two hobbies of mine here – writing, and a fascination with the history of the city I grew up in. I wanted it to be fun, not too serious, and maybe fire some memories for someone who just decided to search for Carlo Sommer or “gruesome interurban accidents.” I also wanted it to be a resource of sorts for the type of history that’s not in books: local-local, and off the beaten path.

I think I’ve succeeded.

While this site does have ads, I might have “earned” $800.00 from it, tops, in ten years. So it’s not a money making venture at all, which is perhaps why The Blade hasn’t come after me yet (they have far greater problems to worry about, just trust me on that). But it does pay its own way, more or less.

My only wish is that I could write more posts, and for that I apologize. I am not of retirement age yet, and have a three-year-old underfoot, so free time is something not in great quantity. Sometimes posts come all in a rush and sometimes they don’t, and frankly, where has the time gone, anyway?

But after ten years, I figure a reveal is in order, especially after a recent comment showed up asking who, exactly, wrote all these posts. Who is the author, anyway?

Well, here’s a tenth birthday present. My name is Chase Clements Jr., and I live in Raytown, Missouri, a suburb of Kansas City with my wife and son. I was born at Toledo Hospital in 1963 and attended Old Orchard School until the middle of the fifth grade, when we moved to the Sylvania City Schools district (just 100 yards or so west of Talmadge Road). I graduated from Sylvania Southview in 1981, squandered a couple years at the University of Toledo, temped at The Blade for a few months where I wrote obituaries and was sent out on all kinds of interesting assignments, worked at Inverness Club for a while when they hosted the PGA Championship in 1986, and then moved to Cincinnati.

If that name sounds the least bit familiar, it’s thanks to my late father, Chase Clements, who did the news thing for over forty years in Toledo: first on radio, at WTOD, to WOHO, then for WSPD-TV for maybe 15 years until he joined The Blade in 1979 (after getting fired, and there’s a great story to go with that but I’m not telling it…yet). He was the political writer in the 1980s but covered just about everything until he retired in 2000 to pursue his greatest passions – reading, classical music and horse racing. He passed away in November of 2013.

You’re allowed to leave comments in obits these days, and this little snippet from Matt Zaleski pretty much reflects my father to the last detail.

The most amusing story I have came on the day of Chase’s passing. I mentioned to mayor-elect D. Michael Collins that Chase had passed. Mr. Collins told me this story. As a student, he had Chase as a teacher. Chase, knowing Mr. Collins history with horses, would call Mr. Collins to the front of the classroom and hand him a racing program and say, “here kid, handicap these races for me.”

As an aside, I was not aware that Collins’ father died after being kicked by a horse at Maumee Downs/Fort Miami in 1962.

Now, growing up in Toledo with that name, while not unpleasant by any means, meant that everybody knew who my father was. Plus nobody other than the two of us had a first name of Chase (fifty-odd years later it is not uncommon, something I never saw coming). Years after he worked in radio, people still recognized the name and remembered his days at WTOD or WOHO or, especially, at WSPD-TV (where I spent a lot of time growing up, 136 Huron St.), where he often did the news on Sunday night in the shadow of the Venner-Ward report Monday through Friday.

So it seems only fitting that I kind of followed in my father’s footsteps. Here’s a 1975 clipping from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that originally appeared in The Blade in the “I’ve Heard” column, probably by Seymour Rothman if I recall correctly,  and was picked up by the Associated Press. It’s a true story.

(We only found about the national scope of this little story when one of my dad’s friends clipped this bright from, get this – The New York Times – and mailed it to him. I believe I still have it.)

The author’s Toledo Blade photo in 1985, back when I had hair.

My career was not as high profile as my father’s, but I’ve spent 33 years now working at newspapers in various capacities (I started out in the pre-digital era in the morgue, with a glue pot, pasting clippings into books) and still am at it as a page designer for a emerging-from-bankruptcy national newspaper chain, doing special sections and advertorials (and as a print page designer, I’m a hack, lemme tell you). It’s news to no one, however, that the newspaper industry is dying a slow, painful death (in fact, I have been laid off from it twice in the last eight years) and it’s been agonizing to watch. But I carry on.

Plus, since I was always being taken to the track, I grew up a horse racing fan, but since there’s no way to bet on them in Missouri those days have unfortunately passed.

My traffic here is still modest – sometimes under a hundred page views a day, sometimes upwards of four or five hundred if a particular post is shared on Facebook/elsewhere and gets some traction (though in some cases I have no idea where my traffic comes from).

Nevertheless, the response I’ve gotten from you, dear reader, has been nothing less than amazing. I appreciate every email and comment. Thank you for reading. I’ll keep going.

4 Comments

  1. Hank Silvers

    Like you, I haven’t lived in Toledo for many years, but I enjoy reading about it in your posts. I never met your father, but he filled in for Frank Venner one week on High School Quiz when my school was on, so I did get to see him at work in the studio.

    Glad to learn about the man behind the posts about the Trail Fire and the Maureen Chemical Company explosion, to name a couple.

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