The Wizard of Oz involves Ohio politics

Published: Sunday, October 07, 2012 @ 12:00 AM
Updated: Sunday, October 07, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

“Who is this Wizard who speaks through various figureheads ….? Marcus Alonzo Hanna … a close adviser to (William) McKinley and the chairman of the Republican National Committee.”

— Rutgers Professor Hugh Rockoff

Oz is short for ounce.

The yellow brick road represents the gold bullion that once backed the dollar.

Dorothy’s slippers, changed to ruby for the Technicolor movie, were silver in the book and represent silver ingots.

Toto represents the nagging but politically ineffective voice of the teetotalers of the day.

These aren’t allegations being traded in the Sherrod Brown-Josh Mandel race.

They’re opinions of serious scholars who argue the 1900 Frank Baum classic “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” reflects the most pressing political issue of the 1896 presidential campaign and that era’s Populist political movement.

“Yes, I think it’s a story of Populism, sure,” said Larry Schweikart, professor of history at the University of Dayton. “The symbolism seems too much to ascribe to pure luck.”

The Oz-as-politics theme is of particular interest to Ohioans because the Wizard is thought to be Cleveland’s Marcus Hanna, Karl Rove’s role model.

Moreover, because of the stake farmers and laborers had in the political roil, Springfield newspapers of the time heavily endorsed the silver side, as did Springfield industrialist John Bookwalter, who in 1896 wrote the book “If Not Silver, What?”

A story, but more

In 1990 the respected Journal of Political Economy revived an academic discussion dating to the 1960s when it published “’The Wizard of Oz’ as a Monetary Allegory,” by Rutgers University’s Hugh Rockoff.

“Baum’s main purpose was to tell a story, and his need for symmetry, interesting characters,” prevented precise parallels, Rockoff writes. But the book is “rich in references” to the politics of the times, the author adds.

With the nation in an economic slide it wouldn’t face again until the 1930s, the 1896 election was a fierce fight between the Eastern financial and business establishment and the farmers and laborers of the South and West over what constituted “fair” money.

The financial establishment, championed by Ohio Republican William McKinley, argued that gold was the steadier commodity and its continued use would assured that any debts owed were paid back in dollars closest in value to the dollars lent. They also said the 16:1 ratio of silver to gold proposed by the so-called bimetallists would devalue the dollar and lead to wild speculation.

The bimetallists, led by Nebraska Democrat William Jennings Bryan, had two arguments with the gold standard:

• Because the limited supply of gold limited the supply of circulating money, parts of the United States didn’t enough cash on hand to do business. This proved a practical problem for Western farmers at harvest time and was a constant problem in the South, which had experienced massive bank failures during the Civil War.

• For many years, the stagnant supply of gold actually caused the value of the dollar to increase in a condition called deflation. As a result, debtors felt they were paying back more than they had borrowed when they paid back loans, although some historians argue the deflated prices farmers paid for other things evened things out.

If the gold-silver debate sounds strange 116 years later, some lines from Bryan’s famous “Cross of Gold” speech at the 1896 Chicago Democratic Convention could be used in this year’s campaign.

“There are two ideas of government,” Bryan said. “There are those who believe that if you just legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, that their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up and through every class that rests upon it.”

Some argue that in “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” Bryan is the Cowardly Lion — cowardly because of his opposition to the Spanish American War and a lion because of his roaring power as an orator. Likewise, most of Dorothy’s entourage is a political coalition, in which the Tin Man represents factory laborers and the Scarecrow represents farmers.

For the Scarecrow

It was for the scarecrows that Bookwalter, president of Springfield’s James Leffel Co., wrote his campaign-year book “If Not Silver, What?”

“As one whose prosperity depends almost entirely on farmers,” Bookwalter wrote, “I have naturally thought most of the effect of monometallism has had, and will continue to have, upon them.”

So did The Sun, Springfield’s morning newspaper.

Reliance on the gold standard had caused, “a heavy increase in the burden of taxation and of all debts, public and private; the enrichment of the money lending class at home and abroad; (and) prostration of industry and impoverishment of the people.”

Down the road in Dayton, the Evening Herald argued the opposite.

“It is estimated that the stockholders of the silver mining companies number about 50,000 persons … considerably less than the population of (Dayton). To increase the(ir) already enormous wealth … we are asked to take a step that will add mountains of weight to the burdens … of our laboring millions.”

Dayton’s Evening News agreed, citing this paragraph from the Financial Chronicle of New York: “The only gainers by a dishonest money policy would be the big debtors, including all employers of labor, who owe great numbers of small creditors, such as depositors in savings banks, holders of insurance policies and men and women who work for fixed salaries and wages.”

Witch direction

As mentioned, the battle pitted different regions against one another. It’s for that reason, Rutgers’ Rockoff argues, that Dorothy is from Kansas, a hotbed of Populism, and that her house lands on the Wicked Witch of the East, representing Eastern banking interests.

The Good Witch of the North, where populism also was strong, gives Dorothy the silver slippers and sends her toward the Emerald City (Washington, D.C.) to confront the powers that be. And Glinda the Good Witch of the South, where Populism also took root, helps Dorothy return to Kansas.

Rockoff notes that when Dorothy and her coalition arrive in the Emerald City (a city the color of cash), they are ushered one by one into a round room (“The Oval Office?” he asks). During their separate meetings with Oz, “each sees a different character” in an exchange Rockoff says is typical of the different things people hear when talking to politicians.

“But who is this Wizard who speaks through various figureheads …?” Rockoff asks. “To a Populist at the turn of the century there is only one answer: Marcus Alonzo Hanna. A close adviser to McKinley and the chairman of the Republican National Committee, he was, in Populist mythology, the brains behind McKinley and his campaign.”

Upon taking office, McKinley arranged for Hanna to fill the U.S. Senate seat from Ohio vacated when he named Sen. John Sherman his secretary of state.

Local fallout

The Ohio Historical Society says that Springfield industrialist Asa Bushnell, whose opulent mansion on East High Street is now the Richards, Raff & Dunbar Memorial Home, was a “longtime foe of Hanna in the state (Republican) organization.”

Serving in his first term as governor when McKinley was elected president, Bushnell “delayed naming Hanna as long as possible,” the historical society says.

Bushnell was a partner in Warder, Bushnell & Glessner, meaning his economic interests were close to the so-called Silverites. But it’s not clear whether his differences with Hanna were over silver or due to Bushnell’s allegiance to his own political mentor, Joseph Foraker.

There’s no doubt, however, that after resisting Hanna’s appointment and then only narrowly winning a second term, Bushnell was aware of the real world power of the “man behind the curtain” in late 19th century American politics.

Still no winner of Queen of Hearts record jackpot

Published: Thursday, August 17, 2017 @ 9:24 AM
Updated: Thursday, October 19, 2017 @ 10:00 PM

Stiil no winner in Ansonia Queen of Hearts

UPDATE @ 10 p.m. (Oct. 19)

The jackpot grows to more than $350,000 after there was still no winner tonight for the Queen of Hearts game of chance at The Whistle Stop in Ansonia.

>>Charities real winners of Queen of Hearts game

There are now 13 cards remaining for the next drawing, which is set for 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28.

UPDATE @ 9:30 p.m. (Oct. 12)

Tonight there was still not a winner for the Queen of Hearts drawing at The Whistle Stop in Ansonia.

There are now 14 cards remaining for the next drawing.

UPDATE @ 9:40 p.m. (Oct. 5)

Once again, there is no winner for tonight’s Queen of Hearts drawing at The Whistle Stop in Ansonia.

Ansonia raffle

There now are 15 cards remaining, with another drawing set for next Thursday.

Queen of Hearts is a legal game of chance in which the person holding the winning ticket pulled during a raffle has a chance to pick the Queen of Hearts from the remaining cards in the deck, according to Daryl Riffle, father of the owner of the Whistle Stop, 200 S. Main St.

UPDATE @ 9:54 p.m. (Sept. 28): No one won the record $350,000 jackpot in the Queen of Hearts drawing.

There now are only 16 cards remaining and the owner of The Whistle Stop in Ansonia said the weekly drawing will continue until someone wins.

UPDATE @8:15 a.m. (Sept. 28)

There’s another Queen of Hearts drawing at The Whistle Stop in Ansonia tonight, and the jackpot is estimated to be around $340,000.

Tickets will be sold up until 8:30 p.m. The drawing will happen around 9 p.m.


UPDATE @ 10:15 p.m. (Sept. 21):  Once again, there was no winner tonight in the Queen of Hearts drawing for a jackpot estimated at more than $326,000.

There are 17 cards remaining.

UPDATE @ 6 a.m. (Sept. 21):

There will be another Queen of Hearts drawing tonight at The Whistle Stop in Ansonia.

Last week, the jackpot was estimated to be $330,000.

Queen of Hearts is a legal game of chance, where the person holding the winning ticket pulled during a raffle has a chance to pick the Queen of Hearts from the remaining cards in the deck, according to Daryl Riffle, father of the owner of the Whistle Stop, 200 S. Main St.

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UPDATE @ 9:25 p.m. (Sept. 14): 

Sorry, no winner in tonight’s jackpot drawing.

UPDATE @ 6:21 p.m. (Sept. 14):

There will be another Queen of Hearts drawing at The Whistle Stop restaurant in Ansonia tonight.

The jackpot is estimated to be $330,000. The drawing will happen at 9 p.m.

Queen of Hearts is a legal game of chance, where the person holding the winning ticket pulled during a raffle has a chance to pick the Queen of Hearts from the remaining cards in the deck, according to Daryl Riffle, father of the owner of the Whistle Stop, 200 S. Main St.


UPDATE @ 9:17 p.m. (Aug. 31):

No one won tonight’s drawing. 

Andrew Riffle, owner of The Whistle Stop and one of the chief organizers of the drawing, said he has heard that people from all over the state -- and Kentucky -- have been coming to Ansonia for the drawing, which now he guesses is in its 31st week.

"We're ready for somebody to walk away with a lot of money," he told News Center 7's James Buechele on Thursday night. 

"If not, we'll keep going until somebody hits it." 

Next week's drawing will be postponed because of a race event at Eldora Speedway that brings in about 40,000 fans. Riffle said Queen of Hearts organizers are going to let the sheriff's office concentrate on that event at Eldora. 

He said he's lost a lot of sleep running the drawing. Two or three hours a night these days is good for him, he said. 

"We're ready for it to be over," Riffle said. 

"We've gotten the exposure we wanted." The charities for which the event was created have done well, he noted, having attracted more than $50,000 in donations. 

When someone wins the jackpot, Riffle said the drawing will take a break until Spring 2018.  

Jim Moore said he bought "plenty" of tickets for his first turn at the jackpot. He traveled to Ansonia from Fort Loramie and thought tonight would be his lucky night.


The jackpot for the Queen of Hearts game at The Whistle Stop restaurant in Ansonia is estimated to be around $300,000 when the business draws tonight’s winning ticket for a chance at the pot, according to the business.

The drawing has grown so large that the business has been working with local law enforcement agencies to keep employees, customers and residents safe during the event.

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Tickets for the game are $1 each and sales are cut off at 8:45 p.m. Thursday. The winning ticket will be selected at 9 p.m., Riffle said.

The business also has a 53-foot semi trailer that will be used to project tonight’s Ohio State Buckeyes football game on.

Ansonia police and the Darke County Sheriff’s Office will be supplying extra patrols for tonight’s event.

The Whistle Stop started the Queen of Hearts game at the business last year and are currently on the third game since it began, Riffle said.

In rural Ohio, rivals take a knee -- for an after-game prayer

Published: Thursday, October 19, 2017 @ 12:26 PM

The St. Marys Memorial Roughriders invited the Celina Bulldogs to take a knee for an after-game prayer last Friday. For more than a year, the Roughriders have invited every opponent to join them after the game in prayer. CONTRIBUTED
The St. Marys Memorial Roughriders invited the Celina Bulldogs to take a knee for an after-game prayer last Friday. For more than a year, the Roughriders have invited every opponent to join them after the game in prayer. CONTRIBUTED

Before the Friday night lights dimmed last week on the latest installation of their fabled football rivalry, the St. Marys Memorial Roughriders invited the Celina Bulldogs to take a knee — for an after-game prayer.

For more than a year, the Roughriders have invited every opponent to join them after the game in prayer. Each team, including the Trotwood-Madison Rams, who beat St. Marys in the Division III regional championship last year, has accepted the invitation.

MORE: Trump again blasts NFL players kneeling over anthem

Though sports teams have long engaged in prayer at all levels of competition, photos of the public school rivals huddled together in after-game prayer quickly gained attention this week on social media amid the ongoing feud between NFL players and President Donald Trump.

“At the time you didn’t think much of it,” said Celina Bulldogs varsity coach Brennen Bader. “But looking back, with our society today … it just shows that high school kids can be the example.”

The St. Marys Roughrider tradition dates to Week 2 of last season, when St. Marys beat the Van Wert Cougars in an away game.

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A day before, then-49ers player Colin Kaepernick and fellow San Francisco player Eric Reid first took a knee during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner.

Already, Kaepernick had sat during the national anthems of several NFL preaseason games in a refusal to “stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

“To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way,” Kaepernick said. “There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

The ‘Battle of Grand Lake’

An hour-plus drive north of Dayton, St. Marys and Celina straddle respective, opposite ends of Grand Lake in Auglaize and Mercer counties.

The football rivalry — the “Battle of Grand Lake” — is fierce.

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On paper, the two communities are similar. Both counties are more than 97 percent white, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, and the counties overwhelmingly voted for President Donald Trump, who is actively engaged in a head-to-head over anthem-kneeling with the NFL, its players and owners.

Both counties are also home to residents who practice organized religion with a frequency above Ohio’s average.

Out of Ohio’s 88 counties, Mercer County has the highest percentage of people who regularly attend religious services, according to 2010 data from the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies. Of the county’s 40,800 residents who regularly attend church, nearly 60 percent of those church-goers are Catholic.

One county over, Auglaize ranks seventh of 88 counties ranked by church attendance, the data show.

SCORES: High School Sports

Roughriders assistant varsity football coach Michael Reams said in reality, fewer than half of his players attend church on Sunday. But plenty attend his Fellowship of Christian Athletes meetings in the auditorium on Friday.

For Reams, his players kneeling in prayer is a highlight of every Friday night.

“It was — it is, especially in small, Midwest Ohio — us raising our young men to be quality young men,” Reams said. “I can’t tell you how many times we hear compliments about our young men. Now, granted, we have some men who still need refining, but they say it’s their favorite part of the night.”

Last week’s game — Celina’s homecoming — was a punishing loss for the Bulldogs against their top rival. But there was no debate about joining the victors midfield.

“I just told our guys, ‘let’s go over there and do it,’” said Celina’s Coach Bader. “We ended up losing the game, a tough loss. We have a great group of kids. They were willing and they understand the bigger picture, that we’re all on the same team.”

Roughrider players have started seeking out competing players who’ve been particularly worthy opponents.

“A lot of times, when you have an opponent, they’re your enemy,” Reams said. “We don’t just go out there to have fun, we go out there to win. Between the whistles, we want to be as tough as they’ve ever seen.”

But after the game, at the center of the field, the reconciliation begins.

“There’s always a pulse of faith in every team, whether they acknowledge it or not,” Reams said. “They go find that guy, take a knee and grab a hand.”

‘A knee for the right reasons’

Kaepernick, now a free agent, last year expressed a belief his actions could “unify this country.”

“If we have these real conversations that are uncomfortable for a lot of people,” Kaepernick said, “If we have these conversations, there’s a better understanding of where both sides are coming from.”

“I have great respect for the men and women that have fought for this country,” he said. “I have family, I have friends that have gone and fought for this country. And they fight for freedom, they fight for the people, they fight for liberty and justice, for everyone. That’s not happening. People are dying in vain because this country isn’t holding their end of the bargain up, as far as giving freedom and justice, liberty to everybody.”

Neither the St. Marys Roughriders nor the Celina Bulldogs have had organized team conversations about Kaepernick or anthem-kneeling, though the topic is occasionally broached.

“It’s about taking a knee for the right reasons,” said Reams. “This country has seen all kinds of strife and tension.”

MORE: NFL commissioner says players will not be forced to stand for anthem

“Whether it’s with the players as players, or in my classroom, we always try to talk about certain topics,” Reams, an industrial tech instructor, told the Dayton Daily News by phone Wednesday after afternoon lunchroom duty. “It’s probably been brought up once or twice.”

“I hope these gentlemen in the NFL are doing it because they feel strong about what they’re doing,” he said. “I think everybody, if they feel strongly about it, they need to stand up for what they believe in.”

Later on Wednesday, NFL Commissioner Rodger Goodell announced the league would not require players to stand for the national anthem. He said the league is “not afraid of tough conversations.”

“I would tell you this,” Goodell said, “it’s unprecedented conversations and dialogue going on between our players and our owners, between our club officials and between our league, and that is a really positive change for us.”

Woman sentenced in Logan County Thanksgiving Day killing

Published: Thursday, September 21, 2017 @ 1:49 PM
Updated: Thursday, October 19, 2017 @ 1:37 PM

Tatiana Freeman and Jasmine Lewis appeared in Logan County Juvenile Court for a probable cause hearing earlier this year. JEFF GUERINI/STAFF
Staff Writer
Tatiana Freeman and Jasmine Lewis appeared in Logan County Juvenile Court for a probable cause hearing earlier this year. JEFF GUERINI/STAFF(Staff Writer)

UPDATE @ 1:38 p.m. (Oct. 19)

Sentencing was held Thursday for a woman who pleaded guilty in connection to the killing of a Logan County man on Thanksgiving. 

Tatiana Freeman was sentenced to a decade in prison today on the complicity to aggravated robbery charge in the death of Jeff Brentlinger, said Logan County Prosecutor Eric Stewart.

She will be on probation for five years after.

The final co-defendant Alexus Walton will be sentenced in November.


Sentencing was held Thursday for a woman who pleaded guilty in connection to the killing of a Logan County man on Thanksgiving. 

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Arrests made in connection to Logan County Thanksgiving shooting death

Jasmine Lewis was sentenced today in a Logan County court to 15 years to life in prison after she pleaded guilty earlier to a complicity to murder charge in the death of 45-year-old Jeff Brentlinger. 

RELATED: Second man sentenced for Thanksgiving Day killing in Logan County

In a statement to the court during the hearing, Lewis said there was never any intent to kill Brentlinger, they only wanted to rob him. 

RELATED: Accused trigger man in Thanksgiving Day robbery-slaying pleads guilty

Two others who were convicted of murder, Zachariah Huddleston, and Marquevous Watkins, were sentenced previously to life in prison. Huddleston will be available for parole in 21 years while Watkins will have a possibility for parole in 18 years. 

A fourth person, Alexus Walton, has also pleaded guilty to a charge of complicity to murder. 

Brentlinger was found dead by his daughter in his rural Zanesfield home on Thanksgiving Day in 2016. 

New Dayton Air Show chairman takes the controls

Published: Thursday, October 19, 2017 @ 4:03 PM

            Scott Buchanan is the chairman of the U.S. Air and Trade Show, which oversees the Vectren Dayton Air Show. CHUCK HAMLIN/STAFF
Scott Buchanan is the chairman of the U.S. Air and Trade Show, which oversees the Vectren Dayton Air Show. CHUCK HAMLIN/STAFF

Scott Buchanan started attending the Dayton Air Show in the 1970s.

Now, the 49-year-old who grew up in Dayton and lives in Vandalia has the controls of the flying spectacle as chairman of the U.S. Air and Trade Show, the group that runs the event at Dayton International Airport.

“I’m still pinching myself,” the Ohio Air National Guard veteran said at a Thursday press conference inside the Ohio Masonic Home, where he is chief executive officer in Springfield.

A USA Today readers poll named the Dayton Air Show among the top 10 in the country this year.

The air show, organized and run by hundreds of volunteers, has about a $2.6 million economic impact, according to the Dayton and Montgomery County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

RELATED: Dayton Air Show sees drop in attendance

Buchanan is taking over at a time when the air show has battled fluctuating attendance because of weather and the unexpected cancellations of headline performers in recent years.

In 2016, the Navy’s Blue Angels scrubbed a Dayton appearance after a team aviator’s fatal crash while practicing air show routines in Tennessee. The Dayton show may attract roughly 70,000 spectators a weekend, but 51,000 people attended then, according to air show estimates.

In June this year, the Air Force Thunderbirds canceled hours before the weekend show was to launch after a team pilot in a twin-seat F-16D Thunderbirds fighter jet, which had a crew member as a passenger, slid off a runway and flipped into a grassy area at Dayton International Airport. The pilot, who was the team narrator, was hospitalized after the accident. A record 2.7-inch rainfall the day before the air show launched caused vehicles to be rerouted to paved parking lots and off saturated, grassy fields at or near the airport and led to parking delays, officials have said.

The air show reported 44,000 spectators this year, down about 30 percent from what had been expected.

RELATED: Dayton Air Show ranks among 10 best in nation, poll says

“It’s very important to us to have a jet team,” Buchanan said. “We’re very fortunate in this area to be able to attract the acts that we do. It’s been unreal the last few years when we think about rains, which we’ve had a lot (of for) two or three years, or losing a jet team. We still have a very high quality air show and very good attendance, which allows the air show to be (financially) sustainable.”

The Blue Angels were set to return to the Vectren Dayton Air Show in 2018, along with Tora! Tora! Tora, a Commemorative Air Force re-enactment of the Japanese aerial attack on Pearl Harbor. Cincinnati-based Redline Airshows will return and West Coast aerobatic newcomer Vicky Benzing is set to make a first appearance in Dayton.

Buchanan said he was planning no major changes.

“I’m a big fan (of) if: it isn’t broke, don’t fix it,” he said.

He has been on the air show’s governing board since 2012, serving as both vice treasurer and a member of the executive committee.

He replaces Michael Emoff, who at 14 years at the helm was the longest serving chairman since the air show took flight in 1975.

RELATED: Air show thrills despite Thunderbirds cancellation

“It’s hard to leave a post that you’re really comfortable in, but it’s just somebody else’s turn to enjoy this particular spot,” Emoff said in a telephone interview.

The outgoing chairman will remain on the board. Emoff said changes under his tenure brought more stability as did canceling an unprofitable trade show at the expo center at Dayton International Airport in 2005 and 2006.

When he joined the board in 1999, he said, “we were not doing well. The shows were tough and sustainability was tough” and the trade show was struggling.

“When I took over, we started to build our way up to a much more manageable show,” he said. “Even in a bad show (with low attendance), we would break even or make money even without jet teams.”