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From Left Field

September 24, 2012

By BOB SHRALUKA
    This latest incident of picking on the Amish brings back some sad and tragic memories of what can happen.
    It was in 1979 that Adams County teenagers got their kicks by riding around the county and throwing things at Amish folks in their buggies, things like rocks and pieces of tile. They were harassing, the teens said, a bunch of "clapes," a word many of us had never before heard. It apparently comes from putting clay with ape, a derogatory term for a farmer.
    One night in '79 the "sport" turned deadly as a piece of tile thrown at a buggy hit and mortally wounded a baby.
    It was an accident in that no one meant to cause a death. But in the weeks that followed, county residents learned that the brutal harassment of the Amish was far more commonplace that most of us had known. We learned, too, that some of those taunting and harassing the Amish would later brag about it to their friends.
    Eventually four young men were tracked down and found guilty of having committed the act. As is their way, the Amish people refused to testify — which is one reason they are so often targeted.
    Well remembered here is the frustration of then-sheriff Tom Coolman at the lack of cooperation from the Amish, who stayed true to their religion. Coolman and others worked hard on the investigation and he deeply wanted justice for something so thoughtless.
    Months and months later, the four young men received suspended sentences and fines of a couple thousand dollars apiece. No incarceration. Today, such deadly harassment might well qualify as a hate crime.
    The tragedy was dug up a few years later with the making of a TV movie, "A Stoning in Fulham County," based on what happened in Adams County.
    Although there have been no more fatalities, thankfully, it is native to think harassment doesn't continue today. For instance, a few years ago, Amish barns were being shot up. Now this latest incident.
    Sad, indeed.

Yes, it was so, Joe
    There's this guy who tells a neat story about Joe Wilder, the rural Decatur man who died last week at the age of 75.
    The guy in question played high school basketball and his dad went to the games. But there was this one time when dad told son he wouldn't be going to his road game; rather, he was going to stay in Decatur and watch the Decatur Catholic Commodores at the Decatur High School gym (now the Service Complex). He wanted to see an opposing player everyone had heard so much about.
    The Commodores were going to match up against the team from nearby Willshire, Ohio. The Bearcats had lost in the championship game of the Ohio small-school state finals in 1955, and still featured a dominant 6-10 center, Gary Kesler.
    When the player got home that night, he discovered an angry father. Angry because he had missed his son's game to see not the dominant player he expected, but a 6-10 guy who was mostly manhandled by a 6-3 or so Joe Wilder, center for the Commodores.
    The dad was not at all impressed by Kesler, but he sure was by Wilder.

Good company
    Mitt Romney said 47 percent of Americans pay no federal income tax. What's so bad about that statement?    
    Hey, you've got some pretty good company there: Most of the oil companies, most of the major corporation, most of the huge banks.
    And when he said that 47 percent are "dependent upon government...who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them..." ... well, doesn't that include the same folks? Where would Big Oil, and Citi and all of the rest be without their corporate welfare?
    

 

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