Riding Out The Storm

April 19, 2018

We took a trip last week to visit family, watch some basketball and to catch some early spring. We most pleasantly did all three and did not intend to find ourselves refugees because of the raging winter storm at home, but we were. This was a first for us. We have never been so far away when Mom Nature decided to throw such a fit. We were rather glad to have missed it but still worried about home.

This big argument between warm and cold found us in southern Kentucky where the lovely dog wood and red bud blooms and green, green grass of spring were periodically dusted with frozen glitter.

Julie Traynor Postcards from the Pine Columnist

Julie Traynor
Postcards from the Pine Columnist

It was, however, a very nice 81 degrees when we met up with son Matt in Louisville, KY, on Friday at the Kentucky Convention and Expo Center. He coaches the wheelchair basketball team, the Motor City Wheelz, whose team members are in high school.  Each has a physical disability which prevents them from regular play, as do all members of this league. This year the Junior Wheelz did very well indeed, and were 22nd seed in the nation going into the playoffs.

The NWBA (National Wheelchair Basketball Association) held this year’s playoffs, in all divisions, youth and adult, in Louisville, Kentucky, at the aforementioned Expo Center. This is a central and accommodating venue for teams to gather from all across the country. Twelve regulation size basketball courts, all seating, space for many spectators and countless folks in wheelchairs, food venues and meeting places had more than enough room in this gargantuan space during the four day event.
Teams and spectators from all across the country attend. Many adult wheelchair basketball teams and players, past and present were in attendance.  We watched a Brooklyn NY team, who has the best player in the NWBA, duke it out with another NY team. The physical stamina and dedication required to both navigate a sport wheelchair and play a vigorous basketball game is incredible. They are all fierce and determined players.  

The Motor City Wheelz pulled off an upset which took them to a playoff for the championship title on Sunday. The Wheelz fell to the Grand Rapids Mary Free Bed Pacers in a tight game, and are in second place on this year’s record books. A hearty congratulations to all, especially the Junior Motor City Wheelz. Oh, and they each got some very nice hardware to take home for the trophy case too.    

This was the perfect storm of things coming together as planned. We were able to visit Cousin Paula and family in Glasgow, KY, travel to Louisville for a couple playoff games and lunch with Matt and our granddaughters and even took a jaunt into Tennessee to catch an even better glimpse of this elusive spring and to eat ice cream.

Sadly, when we returned to Michigan a week later, we did so seeing intermittent snow flurries all the way.  We did not however find snow on the ground in any kind of quantity until we reached Clare, Michigan…where, they claim, the north begins. It figures.

We were saddened to hear of the passing of Peggy Strauch this week. You do not need to be of a certain age to know or remember Peg Strauch. She has been a Marionite and involved in the community, her church, the school and other organizations for more years than many of us have even been. 

Bob Strauch was an early employee of Michigan Gas Storage, and was here for much of the early construction of the natural gas pumping facilities in Winterfield. The young Strauch family adopted Marion as their home, purchased their farm, which Peg still called home, and raised their family of five children. They were at home.

The family attended the Methodist Church and both Bob and Peg sang in the choir for many years. And both were involved in the Sunday school, youth and adult. It is from the Methodist Church Sunday school of my childhood, held in that venerable structure’s basement, from which my first recollections of Peg Strauch spring.

 Coach Matt Traynor, assistant coach Diane Winterstein and graduating senior team members, Tae and Jake pose with some of their awards after Sunday’s game in Louisville, KY.

Coach Matt Traynor, assistant coach Diane Winterstein and graduating senior team members, Tae and Jake pose with some of their awards after Sunday’s game in Louisville, KY.

In the 1950’s all youth classes of the Sunday school gathered together to sing, celebrate the week’s birthdays and hear the Bible lesson, which would be expanded upon later in our individual groups. We all loved the song “The Little Brown Church in the Vale”. It was a weekly favorite although we changed the lyrics to ‘little red church in the vale’ in honor of ours.
For me the absolute best thing about those Sunday morning gatherings, besides the singing, were the Sunday lessons which included a story board; a Biblical story told using felt figures stuck to a felt covered board.

It was rather like a movable box cartoon. I find it hard to describe now and it certainly sounds lackluster, and would be in this age, although I assure you it was not. Often the flow of story depended upon the animation of the storyteller and how well she made the story and figures ‘move’. I was always excited to find the story board set up when I arrived and was even more pleased when the story telling was done by Peg Strauch. She had the gift of making those felt figures come alive and their Bible stories very real.

I am glad that in the years since I had the opportunity to tell her how much I enjoyed and remembered her felt figure stories from so long ago. In typical fashion she said that she was glad that I did, but surprised that I remembered. She was not often the story board lady. I assured her that I did indeed. As a matter of fact, I don’t recall many others.

Mrs. Strauch had a most kind and gentle way. She was truly interested in what you had to say, no matter your age. Kids sense those qualities far quicker than adults. Her dedication to children, her own as well as others, led her to a job at the elementary school, which she greatly enjoyed. I’m sure there are a lot of old kids out there with good Peg Strauch memories. Our sympathies to the Strauch family.

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