REPORTERS NOTEBOOK: Believing in spirits no longer a stretch for BGSU Firelands prof

HURON Joel Rudinger, professor emeritus at BGSU Firelands, has spent years collecting folklore on al
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



Joel Rudinger, professor emeritus at BGSU Firelands, has spent years collecting folklore on all things strange and creepy. He tells tales that make his students shudder, like the Golden Arm and the tale of Mary White. But surprisingly, he didn't believe in spirits until he had a first-hand experience with one.

Rudinger left an empty briefcase in his locked office one day and came back later to find something inside. When he opened the briefcase to fill it with papers, he noticed an item he hadn't seen in at least half a century.

It was an antique glove-stretcher -- one he'd used as a teething toy when he was a toddler. The item still had what appeared to be teeth marks along its side.

Rudinger said no one could have known about the glove-stretcher except for his mother, who's been dead for years. The item is more than 100 years old, and he doubts anyone could find one today.

He still keeps it with him as a reminder of his mother's spirit, which he's now convinced lives on to watch over him.

-- Annie Zelm

Massachusetts tries to discourage Ohio customers

There are signs the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority is growing tired of providing free turnpike transponders to Ohio residents.

Ohio launched its E-ZPass electronic payment system on Oct. 1. Drivers who wanted to avoid hikes on their turnpike tolls on that date were encouraged to avoid the increases by using E-ZPass instead.

Ohio transponders cost $3 apiece, and users also must pay a 75-cents-a-month fee for using them. Massachusetts, however, makes its transponders available free, and its transponders work fine in Ohio. (Customers in both states must put down a deposit to cover initial turnpike tolls).

The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority has added a step to its Web site asking first-time customers to say which state they live in. Anyone who selects "Ohio" is directed to the Ohio Turnpike Authority Web site.

A reliable source tells us, however, that fibbing and answering "Massachusetts" still allows an Ohio resident to obtain a Massachusetts transponder.

-- Tom Jackson

When duty calls

Typically when police officers are called on to testify in Ottawa County Common Pleas court, they arrived in freshly-pressed uniforms with their badges polished.

But that's when they know they're going to appear.

Judge Bruce Winters caught Port Clinton Police Sgt. Rob Hickman off-guard when he called Thursday afternoon to request Hickman's presence at 27-year-old Eric Buckley's sentencing. Hickman was the lead investigator on the case, and Winters wanted him to identify what was happening in a cloudy video surveillance tape that showed Buckley's involvement in a bar fight at Nick's Road House in Port Clinton.

The off-duty Hickman hurried to the court as requested -- sporting sandals, shorts and a flannel shirt.

Hickman played it cool, grinning as Winters noted the court called him in on short notice.

-- Sarah Weber