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Odds and Ends Fill This Shop

Town Talk by Don Wolfe

PORTAGE, OH 1969 - Need a left handed bolt for a 1916 model T Ford? Or a stemwinder for your old grandmother clock? Or a fan belt for a threshing machine? Maybe a diving rod?

Wild Items to be sure, but it is a reasonable bet that a shopper can find them in Ted Shinew’s over-stuffed store. Believe me, there is nothing in this entire region to match this well-stocked place. It’s a huge old garage, loaded with something between 537,802 to 1,074,593 items.

Upstairs, there’s more. And, as Mr. Shinew promises, if he doesn’t have what you want or need, no matter how old, or odd, he’ll order it. Or make it.

Anytime a factory, garage, appliance shop, or other business goes out of existence, Mr. Shinew is there with the high bid. He buys up everything in odds and ends, topping it off with lock, stock and barrel. His customers range from Florida to Alaska.

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Portage, a Wood County hamlet within the shadow of Bowling Green University’s 10-floor skyscrapper, has an abundance of everything. Small as it is, there are two barbershops – Carl Hammer’s and John Hottinger’s – a tire store, book store, and seemingly, one problem per capita for the 450 residents.

Problems include quarries at each end of town, a main highway sometimes used by hot-rodders, individual wells, mostly of sulphur water, houses without basements, and growing pains.

If that isn’t enough, someone even changed the course of the Portage River through town.

But Portage has many nice things, too – including a mayor, Marshall Winton, who knows how to smile as the village fights its growing pains and problems.

"We’re only two miles from Bowling Green, and we’re fast closing the gap," Mr. Winton said. "Some day, soon, we’ll get gobbled up by our problems."

When the council, Barbara Ober, Blythe C. Drain, Calvin Ribble, Jerry Foltz, James Schroder, and Beverly Leady recently deadlocked on a zoning proposal for expansion of one quarry, Mr. Winton broke the 3-3 tie by voting against it.

Amos Valentine said he collected all but two signatures in town on his petitions opposing rezoning the old Wagner farm on 47 acres from agricultural to industrial to allow the expansion. Common complaints are that quarries in town stimulate dust, shake houses in blasting, and sometimes cut water veins to wells.

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At the north edge of town, an inactive quarry rumbles only occasionally by college kids jumping in for a swim, winter or summer.

The town’s formal recreation spot is in the old Methodist Church, where women volleyballers, men basketballers, and children play where their elders once prayed.

Worshippers now gather in an imposing new structure. The only problems, according to the Rev. James Mussman, pastor of the United Methodist Church, is the heavy black sulphuric water. The pastor said his wife, Lou Anne, must do a lot of extra work to chlorinate, filter, and soften the water.

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The old Falcons Nest, original student union on the Bowling Green University campus, is now home to the American Legion.

Portage, like many small towns, once had three grocery stores. It’s now down to one and Dallas Kinney, 38 years in business, is planning to retire on or near his 65th birthday in July.

Mayor Winton said U.S. 25, then main stem, sort of died up in traffic last winter when new I-75 opened. Now cars and trucks are returning. The state highway department, the mayor said, suggested a flasher instead of a red light in town. But when the speedy set showed up to do a bit of racing, or dragging, in town, the red light stayed.

"We don’t like people rushing through town," the mayor said. "We’d prefer that they go through a bit slow, and enjoy it like we do."

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