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Township hall and Chevy

This photo was taken at the first of five township hall stops on Saturday’s bike ride in eastern Ohio. The township hall is the white building under the American flag. A lot of township halls in this part of the world are uninteresting pole barns, but they are often in interesting surroundings. In this case, I wanted to get the old Chevy into the photo with it.

I didn’t notice at first that by standing where I was, I was blocking the owner of the residence from driving into her driveway. So after I got out of the way and she pulled in, I explained that I was taking a photo of the township hall, and thought the 1953 Chevy belonged in the photo with it, if she didn’t mind. She didn’t, so I got my photo.

It’s not the first time that I’ve taken advantage of an old car in somebody’s rural Ohio yard to get a photo. I wrote about one last year, too: Elimination: The MoravianTracts.

Today one of my stops was a couple of townships further to the west. While waiting for a guy to finish unloading his recyclables at the recycling bins, I went to read the notices on the town hall/garage door to learn what issues the township was dealing with lately. What I found was this:

The [Redacted] Township Board of Trustees has received complaints regarding junk motor vehicles within [redacted] Township jurisdiction. This Notice serves to notify residents of the legal authority pursuant to inoperable vehicles.

[Redacted] Township Zoning prohibits parking of any disabled vehicle within township limits. “No person shall park, store or leave, or permit the parking or storing of any unlicensed motor vehicle or any vehicle in a rusted, wrecked, junk, partially dismantled, inoperative, or abandoned condition, whether attended or not, upon any property within the township unless the same is completely enclosed within a building.”

Then it goes on to explain how it will enforce this regulation.

I’m all in favor of local regulation, and usually don’t offer my own opinion on local decisions. But this time I will.

Perhaps what put me off was this closing remark: “[Redacted] Township Board of Trustees sincerely hopes these efforts will continue to improve the quality of life for all [Redacted] Township residents.”

For me, a high quality of life would come from living in a township where people take enough pride in their property to keep their places looking nice of their own free will and to get along with their neighbors, and not because of government mandates. I try to live with neighbors who have different ideas of what constitutes a nice neighborhood, though I must admit that I have trouble with loud noises (aka music). But even if the old cars create a public health hazard, I think it’s even more important to let people manage their own affairs to the maximum extent possible. If 90 percent of the people in the township were dying from old-car cooties, sure, we’d need to take action. Even if it was only 80 percent I’d almost certainly be on the side of those who’d want them vaccinated down to a safe level. It’s a balancing act. But I place a high value on the individual-freedom side of the scale, and am willing to take some risks to the health and finances of my loved ones for the sake of those freedoms.

(Partial disclosure: A couple of years ago my son had a couple of more-or-less disabled cars in our yard. I asked him to move them around once in a while so the neighbors wouldn’t report us for having inoperable cars in the yard. I don’t know if we have an ordinance about it, but we probably do. Eventually, we put them out of sight behind the garage. He finally sold them for a few hundred dollars each, and the grass behind the garage grew back this summer.)

Oh, back to the guy at the recycle bins. He was taking a long, long time, and I couldn’t figure out what the banging noise was about. He wasn’t young, and was a bit on the rotund side; also shirtless, bearded, and wearing sweatpants. I could have asked him if he’d be willing to be in a photo, but I tend to get into long conversations with people, and time was short. I still wanted to get to my final destination, a historic museum, before it closed. I had missed my chance last year.

Then, as I was leaving, I noticed that he was not dropping off recyclables, after all. He was rummaging through the bins and putting some of the items in his van. I’ve known people like that. They are often interesting to talk to. But I moved on and made it to the museum in time to view the exhibits.

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There are 20 comments.

  1. KentForrester Coolidge

    You mean you can’t die from old-car cooties? I’ve always been under the impression that you could, especially if the old car is a Nash Rambler or Volkswagen Bus. Those vehicles are full of cooties. 

    Reticulator, I’ve always considered myself on the libertarian side of conservatism, but you must be a full-blown libertarian to be so insouciant (yes, I love big words) in your attitude toward abandoned vehicles.

    • #1
    • October 14, 2019, at 3:28 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  2. JosePluma Thatcher

    The Reticulator: I noticed that he was not dropping off recyclables, after all. He was rummaging through the bins and putting some of the items in his van.

    He’d better not do that in California; the police would have a talk with him and he’d likely have a new set of bracelets. Fascist governments don’t mind handing money out to the poor. Don’t try to help yourself though, especially if you’re “stealing” from the fascist government.

    • #2
    • October 14, 2019, at 5:09 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  3. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator Post author

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    You mean you can’t die from old-car cooties? I’ve always been under the impression that you could, especially if the old car is a Nash Rambler or Volkswagen Bus. Those vehicles are full of cooties.

    Reticulator, I’ve always considered myself on the libertarian side of conservatism, but you must be a full-blown libertarian to be so insouciant (yes, I love big words) in your attitude toward abandoned vehicles.

    Not so libertarian that I’d want to take away the power of townships to enact abandoned vehicle ordinances. In fact, I consider libertarians and commies to be two species of the same genus. I have been mistaken for a libertarian at times (and even voted for some for President when the Republicans nominated the likes of the Bushes) but it’s a case of mistaken identity. Years ago on LiveJournal a 40-something asked me to join the Libertarian community so he wouldn’t have to be the oldest person there. (I was in my early 50s then.) I did, but I’m not one of them, and less so now than then. 

    • #3
    • October 14, 2019, at 5:45 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  4. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator Post author

    JosePluma (View Comment):

    The Reticulator: I noticed that he was not dropping off recyclables, after all. He was rummaging through the bins and putting some of the items in his van.

    He’d better not do that in California; the police would have a talk with him and he’d likely have a new set of bracelets. Fascist governments don’t mind handing money out to the poor. Don’t try to help yourself though, especially if you’re “stealing” from the fascist government.

    Some townships around here have regulations against dumpster-diving in the township recycling bins. But whether they do or not, a lot of townships take a live-and-let-live approach.

    The Henrietta Mall (a county recycling center in Hubbard County MN, named after Henrietta Township where it is located) goes back and forth between prohibiting and looking the other way. The center, a well-operated facility, is not officially called the Henrietta Mall, but that’s what the locals call it.

    I knew a person (now deceased) who did regular dumpster-diving in southern California. At one point he was sentenced to weekends in jail for refusing to clean the junk out of his yard (in a suburb of nice hillside homes, where he had a big lot that had room for his extra cars and other treasures). His weekend companions wouldn’t believe it when he explained what he was in for.

    • #4
    • October 14, 2019, at 5:57 AM PST
    • 1 like
  5. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator Post author

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    Reticulator, I’ve always considered myself on the libertarian side of conservatism, but you must be a full-blown libertarian to be so insouciant (yes, I love big words) in your attitude toward abandoned vehicles.

    You’ve got to admit, though, that a 1953 Chevy like that one would improve almost any suburban yard. (And I must admit that at first I was wondering if it was a ’54, even though the tailfins were a little too low for 1954 and the grill wasn’t quite right. What threw me was the one-piece windshield. I wasn’t sure if those had already come out on Chevrolets in 1953. (They had.) My childhood memories sometimes fail me.)

    • #5
    • October 14, 2019, at 6:41 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  6. Full Size Tabby Member

    One problem with regulations such as that cited is that it is difficult to write regulations that accurately distinguish between “junk” and what truly is “yard art.” 

    It is not unusual for farm or antique stores to use an inoperative vehicle in the front yard as a sign for the store. At least one auto repair shop in our town has a car permanently parked out front (I suspect it no longer runs) as a sign for the shop.

    In many of the less densely populated towns of western New York state (where we lived for almost 20 years), old farm implements were popular as decorative items in landscape design. 

    So, how does a regulation distinguish between a sign, yard decor, and junk?

    • #6
    • October 14, 2019, at 6:47 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  7. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator Post author

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    One problem with regulations such as that cited is that it is difficult to write regulations that accurately distinguish between “junk” and what truly is “yard art.”

    It is not unusual for farm or antique stores to use an inoperative vehicle in the front yard as a sign for the store. At least one auto repair shop in our town has a car permanently parked out front (I suspect it no longer runs) as a sign for the shop.

    In many of the less densely populated towns of western New York state (where we lived for almost 20 years), old farm implements were popular as decorative items in landscape design.

    So, how does a regulation distinguish between a sign, yard decor, and junk?

    That is a good point. I have several photos of old farm implements being used as intentional yard art. The Ohio countryside would lose some of its charm if it weren’t for unintentional yard art. But there is no denying that it’s sometimes hard to know where to draw the line.

    • #7
    • October 14, 2019, at 6:56 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  8. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator Post author

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    So, how does a regulation distinguish between a sign, yard decor, and junk?

    That is a good point. I have several photos of old farm implements being used as intentional yard art. The Ohio countryside would lose some of its charm if it weren’t for unintentional yard art. But there is no denying that it’s sometimes hard to know where to draw the line.

    And I’m not saying it’s a hard and fast rule, keeping the grass trimmed around it in an otherwise neat-looking yard will go a long way to making it “art”.

    • #8
    • October 14, 2019, at 6:59 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  9. Full Size Tabby Member

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    So, how does a regulation distinguish between a sign, yard decor, and junk?

    That is a good point. I have several photos of old farm implements being used as intentional yard art. The Ohio countryside would lose some of its charm if it weren’t for unintentional yard art. But there is no denying that it’s sometimes hard to know where to draw the line.

    And I’m not saying it’s a hard and fast rule, keeping the grass trimmed around it in an otherwise neat-looking yard will go a long way to making it “art”.

    Which people who wish to maintain “quality of life” in their community will do on their own, but it’s very hard to define in a regulation. 

    • #9
    • October 14, 2019, at 7:13 AM PST
    • 1 like
  10. PHCheese Member

    The old cars aren’t really yard art until there is a good sized tree growing up through the hood area, at least that is the way of it here in South Carolina.

    • #10
    • October 14, 2019, at 9:02 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  11. Al French, Count of Clackamas Member

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    Reticulator, I’ve always considered myself on the libertarian side of conservatism, but you must be a full-blown libertarian to be so insouciant (yes, I love big words) in your attitude toward abandoned vehicles.

    You’ve got to admit, though, that a 1953 Chevy like that one would improve almost any suburban yard. (And I must admit that at first I was wondering if it was a ’54, even though the tailfins were a little too low for 1954 and the grill wasn’t quite right. What threw me was the one-piece windshield. I wasn’t sure if those had already come out on Chevrolets in 1953. (They had.) My childhood memories sometimes fail me.)

    I first took it for a 54. I didn’t remember that the 53s had the double chrome strip on the rear fenders.

    • #11
    • October 14, 2019, at 9:34 AM PST
    • Like
  12. Pony Convertible Member

    I too I think it’s important to let people manage their own affairs to the maximum extent possible. However, I have had two scenarios that are forcing me to rethink this.

    Back in 2003 I built a house. The view to the north was spectacular. The adjacent field was a pasture with horses. beyond that was a small corn field, and then for miles beyond was beautiful hardwood forest. I designed the house to take advantage of this view, with large windows, and a large deck overlooking it. About a year after I was done, the land owner adjacent to me turn the horse pasture into a mining operation, and began selling top soil. The beautiful view was replaced by ugly piles of dirt, heavy equipment, noise, and dust. There were times when over an 1/8th inch of dust would accumulate on my car, and everything else, in one day. The county refused to do anything. The land is zoned agricultural, which allows for the moving of clean fill.

    Now I live in another house, with another neighbor. His yard was nice and well maintained when I bought the property. Then he went on disability due to a work accident. Lacking anything better to do with his time, he has turned his property into a junk yard (He is too disabled to work, but I see him bent over and crawling under cars all the time). Virtually every square foot of the property has a junker on it. Some of them are stacked. On the plus side, there isn’t any dust, or noise. It is just an eyesore.

    • #12
    • October 14, 2019, at 9:50 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  13. Full Size Tabby Member

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    JosePluma (View Comment):

    The Reticulator: I noticed that he was not dropping off recyclables, after all. He was rummaging through the bins and putting some of the items in his van.

    He’d better not do that in California; the police would have a talk with him and he’d likely have a new set of bracelets. Fascist governments don’t mind handing money out to the poor. Don’t try to help yourself though, especially if you’re “stealing” from the fascist government.

    Some townships around here have regulations against dumpster-diving in the township recycling bins. But whether they do or not, a lot of townships take a live-and-let-live approach.

    The Henrietta Mall (a county recycling center in Hubbard County MN, named after Henrietta Township where it is located) goes back and forth between prohibiting and looking the other way. The center, a well-operated facility, is not officially called the Henrietta Mall, but that’s what the locals call it.

    I knew a person (now deceased) who did regular dumpster-diving in southern California. At one point he was sentenced to weekends in jail for refusing to clean the junk out of his yard (in a suburb of nice hillside homes, where he had a big lot that had room for his extra cars and other treasures). His weekend companions wouldn’t believe it when he explained what he was in for.

    Anti-dumpster-diving ordinances aren’t just because the government thinks the recyclables are “theirs” – they often come about because the dumpster divers sometimes make messes around the dumpsters that the dumpster divers don’t clean up.

    In a neighborhood in which I previously lived people would come by on curbside trash day because they could find in our trash stuff that some poor people might want (working but cosmetically damaged lamps, worn furniture, used children’s riding toys) or that could be sold for scrap. We residents didn’t mind until some of the people who did this got messy and strew the rest of the trash around while searching for the usable stuff, and so we felt we had to get the police to enforce the on-the-books-but-rarely-used ordinance against taking stuff from curbside trash. 

    • #13
    • October 14, 2019, at 10:19 AM PST
    • Like
  14. Full Size Tabby Member

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    I knew a person (now deceased) who did regular dumpster-diving in southern California. At one point he was sentenced to weekends in jail for refusing to clean the junk out of his yard (in a suburb of nice hillside homes, where he had a big lot that had room for his extra cars and other treasures). His weekend companions wouldn’t believe it when he explained what he was in for.

    When we were trying to decide where in Texas to move in retirement, we toured a lot of towns all over the central and western parts of the state. While in one town we came across a housing neighborhood near the edge of town that had a large, prominent sign at the entrance to the neighborhood announcing that the development was under the jurisdiction of a homeowners’ association and associated restrictive covenants concerning property maintenance. As we drove around the development, we wondered about the nature of the restrictive covenants, as the houses (on large lots) were of quite varied architectural styles, in very different states of maintenance, most had no noticeable landscaping, and many of the yards had lots of equipment or building materials or extra vehicles all over the place.

    My personal suspicion is that the neighbors didn’t like the town ordinances, and convinced the town to exempt the neighborhood from town ordinances on the promise of having an HOA that would maintain standards, and then the neighbors set up the HOA and its “restrictive covenants” to be looser than what the town ordinances would have required.

    • #14
    • October 14, 2019, at 10:31 AM PST
    • 1 like
  15. SkipSul Moderator

    If you’re ever in central Ohio, drop me a line, I’ll make time.

    • #15
    • October 15, 2019, at 11:55 AM PST
    • 1 like
  16. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator Post author

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    If you’re ever in central Ohio, drop me a line, I’ll make time.

    I should do that. I thought of you several times while bicycling in Ohio this year. On this last trip, in between rides we spent one day with friends from the rural Pittsburgh region who came over to visit with us, and it was the high point of our week. One reason I thought of you was the Orthodox monastery that is near their home.

    • #16
    • October 15, 2019, at 12:00 PM PST
    • 1 like
  17. Eb Snider Member

    Sounds like a bunch of uppity, tightwads in that Township Board of Trustees. In the Tri-State area (Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio) inoperable vehicles, classic or otherwise, are just a part of the scenery without the fussy types getting all nebby.

    Aside from potential scraping or resurrection, inoperable vehicles can be useful and not simply eye sores to those with OCD. For example as storage. Can’t tell you how much money some relatives saved over the years over a storage unit or unnecessary money on a shed. That Chevy Suburban and old Lincoln with the footprint of a helipad worked just fine. Also think about the outside cats. Inoperable cars frequently provide humane bases for which those critters to make a shelter. Is this Township going to be pro-vermin running unchecked? One could make compromises I suppose and be courteous enough to let the grass and vegetation to grow up enough to obscure most of the inoperable vehicle. And finally these cars can sometimes make nice photos. Just think in 25 years a guy might get to have the same chance with a rusted out ’92 Cavalier. 

    I like the irony of your photograph with the ol’ Chevy with the Township building with the scolding notice in the background.

     

    • #17
    • October 15, 2019, at 12:08 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  18. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator Post author

    Eb Snider (View Comment):
    I like the irony of your photograph with the ol’ Chevy with the Township building with the scolding notice in the background.

    You’re getting into the spirit of it! I hadn’t thought about the storage angle. Rental storage is a huge business in the United States; maybe the rental storage lobby is behind the abandoned vehicle ordinances.

    Just to clarify, though. The township building with the notice was two townships to the west of the one in the photo. I don’t know what stand this particular township takes on old vehicles. Even if it does have an ordinance against them, it might not do anything except in response to a complaint. 

    • #18
    • October 15, 2019, at 12:27 PM PST
    • 1 like
  19. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    Reticulator, I was thinking of you when recently making my way through a book on the Great Lakes. I ended up getting to a section that detailed this Great Black Swamp, which was some thirty miles extending from Toledo west ward and south. It had sections of Ohio, Indiana and Michigan inside its grasp.

    Around the time that our buddy Black Hawk was engaged in the Indian wars in Illinois and Wisconsin, the swamp was considered best travelled during the winter, when it was thoroughly frozen over. At some point during that decade, a log highway was created through the swamp. But a person had to make sure their carriage stayed on the road, as otherwise the horse might get sucked in and die. Or you might get injured, even seriously.

    Originally the swamp lands hosted mucky waters, and lots of birds. As well as cougar, bear, deer, coyote, and more. Huge stands of trees grew sky high, and the tall grasses that made their way up inside the patches of forest where the sun came through were known to stop explorers in their tracks, they were so tightly inter woven.

    A device was invented that helped the settlers clear up the swamp by installing tile drainage systems. Eventually the settlers had the whole thing draining into Lake Erie and the nearby rivers. Their ambition to topple down most of its its tall trees succeeded as well. The area became one of the most productive farmland areas our nation has known.

    I had never heard of this swamp. Are you familiar?

    • #19
    • October 18, 2019, at 4:15 PM PST
    • Like
  20. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator Post author

    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret (View Comment):

    Reticulator, I was thinking of you when recently making my way through a book on the Great Lakes. I ended up getting to a section that detailed this Great Black Swamp, which was some thirty miles extending from Toledo west ward and south. It had sections of Ohio, Indiana and Michigan inside its grasp.

    Around the time that our buddy Black Hawk was engaged in the Indian wars in Illinois and Wisconsin, the swamp was considered best travelled during the winter, when it was thoroughly frozen over. At some point during that decade, a log highway was created through the swamp. But a person had to make sure their carriage stayed on the road, as otherwise the horse might get sucked in and die. Or you might get injured, even seriously.

    Originally the swamp lands hosted mucky waters, and lots of birds. As well as cougar, bear, deer, coyote, and more. Huge stands of trees grew sky high, and the tall grasses that made their way up inside the patches of forest where the sun came through were known to stop explorers in their tracks, they were so tightly inter woven.

    A device was invented that helped the settlers clear up the swamp by installing tile drainage systems. Eventually the settlers had the whole thing draining into Lake Erie and the nearby rivers. Their ambition to topple down most of its its tall trees succeeded as well. The area became one of the most productive farmland areas our nation has known.

    I had never heard of this swamp. Are you familiar?

    Yes, I’m familiar with it. It’s basically the drainage basin of the Maumee River. And the larger area that includes it did become a good part of the nation’s breadbasket before the prairie states took over that role. 

    I’ve followed several settler stories about traveling through the Black Swamp, including the story of the family whose interaction with Black Hawk that would have led to the title of my book, “Black Hawk Slept Here,” back when I had ideas of writing such a book.

    My own journeys through the area have been less exciting, but on Labor Day weekend in 1998 (or was it 1999?) I got to Fremont OH on Sunday night, getting a greatly reduced motel rate because the owner insisted, noting that I had come by bicycle. The next morning I got up well before sunup to ride to Castalia, because Mrs R was not willing to pick me up at nearby Sandusky. She said she had been to Sandusky once and didn’t want to go back. But she was willing to come as far as Toledo to get me.

    But Castalia was an important destination to me because of a War of 1812 incident that later connected to the Black Hawk war scare. So I got up well before sunup and headed there by starlight, as I had no headlight for my bicycle at that time. It would have been disastrous on some of our Michigan roads, with their potholes, but Ohio roads were in good shape. There was an occasional rural yardlight to help me out until dawn’s early light. At Castalia I had to wait for the sun to come up to get photos. Then I got breakfast and headed for Perrysville/Toledo, on the roadway through the former swamp whose right-of-way had been negotiated as part of the Treaty of Greenville in 1795 (I think). It was against the wind on a moderately busy road, and not at all a pleasant ride.

    At Perrysville Mrs R and I visited the Fort Meigs site, where she slipped and fell off a boardwalk, causing her a knee problem that bothered her ever since. I call it her War of 1812 war injury. She got that knee replaced this year.

    I’ve had other bicycle rides through the former Black Swamp, including one this June, but that was the most memorable.

    The former Lake Erie lake bed, where the Black Swamp was located, is very flat country. It can be an easy place to ride, assuming favorable winds, but I’m usually eager to get to rolling hills by the time I ride all the way across it. Old Highway US-30 east of Van Wert follows a former Lake Erie shoreline, and is the place of beginning of more interesting terrain when I’m riding in that direction.

    The headwaters of the St. Joseph River (not the one that flows into Lake Michigan, but the one that flows into the Maumee at Fort Wayne) are on the south side of Hillsdale, MI. Much of its extent, once it flows out of the hilly area of Hillsdale, was part of the swampy country. 

    • #20
    • October 18, 2019, at 8:03 PM PST
    • 2 likes