Russ Kent: What makes your heart sing?


Sometimes life gets in the way of my writing, and I run out of ideas.

For three days — with no luck — I’ve tried to come up with a good idea for a column.

So, at 7 p.m. Monday, I’m still looking for a good idea.

I’ve had plenty of bad ideas, but nothing that really talks to me.

Ron Simon, a good friend and former columnist at the Mansfield News Journal for more than two decades, was one of my favorite people, and my favorite writer. I liked Ron’s style and the way his columns flowed. They had a tempo to them. Ron also wrote two columns a week, for a lot longer than I’ve been doing it.

But if Ron didn’t have an idea for a column, he’d sit down — perhaps with a lit cigar and glass of bourbon — and let the ideas flow.

I’m going to try that tonight.

No cigar. No bourbon. But an extra-strength Tylenol and a Canoe Paddler Kilsch style beer. Ok, two or three of both.

So, here goes.

On social media Sunday night, someone — I believe it was my old friend Ben Lash from New Washington, posted an interesting video. Believe it or not, Ben was a basketball coach of mine in fifth- or sixth-grade, way back in the day, at Galion’s old YMCA. I know neither of us looks old enough for that, but that’s another column.

I don’t know if Ben remembers that experience. I think he was youth director or something at the YMCA. But then he moved on to bigger and better coaching jobs.

Anyway, back to the YMCA. The old one on the corner South Market and West Atwood streets. It was an old armory. I knew it as the YMCA in the late 1960s to at least the late 70s.

I played basketball there, I roller-skated there, I tried to pick up girls there at juvenile dances — I was a lot better at basketball, by the way. In the late ’70s I remember going up there and to chat (flirt) with Kim Flick, who may or may have been married by then. Kim was coaching a gymnastics team and my sister Jenny was on the team and I was her ride. I always arrived about 30 minutes earlier than the others brothers and parents playing taxi. I don’t know if Kim every noticed that I was always early. But if she reads this, the cat is out of the bag.

I remember watching the construction of the Galion Community Center in Heise Park. I’m just going from memory here, but I would say it started in the mid-70s. It’s been there long enough I can’t remember the topography of that park before the community center — now the YMCA — moved in. But as a true gym rat back in the day, I loved having a new place to hang just 100 yards from the back door of my parent’s home. I spent a lot of time at the old community center.

Between the Heise Park baseball fields, tennis courts, swimming pool, basketball courts and YMCA, I rarely spent more than a couple hours at home on summer days.

The Community Center was beautiful. Modern and clean and the hot water worked in the showers. But it lacked the character of the old armory on the other side of town.

And speaking of ratty old gyms with character.

Who remembers playing basketball in what is now the Miracle Meetings Church, 114 W. Walnut St. I don’t remember much. But I remember that double front entrance, and how little room there was in there to do anything but play basketball. My brother Bob, a couple years older than I, played there. I remember watching, but not playing, so I’m guessing this was the late 1960s or really early ’70s. My most vivid memory is the time my brother — who I believe wore a broken and self-repaired pair of glasses from the time he was about 10 until he got his first set of contacts after high school — was very competitive. Too competitive. One time after being called for a foul, he ripped those taped-up glasses from his face and threw them across the floor. Fortunately, it was hard to do too much damage to glasses made up of more masking tape than anything else. But it certainly made my mom mad. It least she appeared angry as she dragged him off the floor for an impromptu lecture.

Anyway, back to Ben Lash and social media. Ben is a big sports fan. Anything Ohio State and anything Cleveland. At this time of year, Ben is getting psyched up to cheer on the Cleveland Indians. The video he posted was of one of the “Major League” movies. I think the second, or third. Charlie “Wild Thing” Sheen comes out of the bullpen to the tune of, you guessed it, “Wild Thing.” And the affect that song has on the Cleveland fans, and anyone watching the movie — well at least me — is remarkable. They’re dancing in the aisles, standing up and cheering, and acting a little bit, nuts.

That was my idea for a column. Songs from movies that make you want to get up and move or sing or dance or that elicit an emotional response.

I came up with a few. It’s hard to rank them, so don’t take the numerical order too seriously.

No. 1 is “Twist and Shout” from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

No. 2 is “Shout” by Otis Day and the Knights in “Animal House.” When I was going to school at Ohio State, we occupied an old house on East 18th. Six to eight of us lived there. But on the weekends the population would swell to the teens or 20s. And I remember being in the basement one day when this song was played on my old stereo during a party. I thought the house was going to cave in because that floor was being bounced so hard.

No. 3 would be “Wild Thing.”

No. 4 — a very close fourth — is “Time Warp” from the “Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

And No. 5, — but could easily be No. 1 — is “Always Look at the Bright Side of Life” from Monty Python’s Life of Bryan. There is just something about that song. Each time I I hear it I start whistling and kicking my legs and, yes, at times I look for a wooden cross to crawl upon.

No. 6 is “Footloose,” from the movie “Footloose.” It made Kevin Bacon a star and it’s still hard to sit still when you hear it.

There were others. In no particular order are “Somewhere over the Rainbow” by Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz,” Another oldie is “Singing in the Rain.” Courtesy of former boss and co-worker Melissa Ramaley is “You’re the one that I Want” from “Grease” and “Mama’s Don’t Let Your Babies Grow up to be Cowboys” from the “Electric Horseman.”

There are more, but my column needs to be finished tonight.

If you have any other suggestions, I’ll compile a larger list for a future column.

Email your suggestions to me me at [email protected] or send me a message on Facebook.


Russ Kent is editor of the Galion Inquirer, Bellville Star and Morrow County Sentinel. Email him at [email protected] with comments or story ideas.


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