Saturday, March 18, 2017

Giving blood an easy way to aid others, reward self


I got serious about donating blood after 9/11.

Before the terrorist attacks of 2001, I had given only sporadically.  After the tragedy, I reasoned that giving blood was all I could do to help those injured in New York and Washington, D.C.

On September 12, I joined the crowd of folks outside the Statehouse and waited for hours.  The weather was as pleasant as he day before, but the atmosphere was saturated with uncertainty and unease.  Conversations were subdued.

When I finally made it inside the donation bus, the Red Cross workers were pleasant but serious.  They were eager to collect as many donations as possible in the time available

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Keyless Car Leaves Drive Feeling Adrift - Columbus Dispatch April 30, 2016


I recently rented a car for a business trip to West Virginia.
After filling out the paperwork, I walked around the vehicle with the agent to inspect it for damage. Finding none, I began to reach for “the keys.”
The agent asked whether I had driven a car with a keyless ignition. I said no.
He explained that the car didn’t have a key. To start the car, he said, I just needed to have the fob inside the car and push the start/stop button; to turn it off, I had to push the button again.
What could be easier?
I hopped in and got on my way. Three hours later, I arrived in Charleston without any problems.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Nicknames


His birth certificate said his name was Frederick.
The priest who baptized him called him Ferdinand.
His siblings called him Freddy.
As a teenager, he liked to drive fast - "going like Barney Oldfield," as the saying went back then - so his friends (and eventually his wife and her family) called him Barney.
At work he was Fred.
When he died in 1986, his tombstone read Fred R. Imwalle.
I just called him Dad.

Originally published by The Columbus Dispatch on August 17, 2015.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Longview Barber Shop



My barber, Dave, nods at us as we walk in.  Neither his conversation nor his scissors pause.  My four youngest boys hustle to the toy box in the back room.  Many of the toys are old or broken. Looking at the scramble for them though, you would think they were gold doubloons.  My older three boys were more reserved in public.  When these last four get comfortable somewhere, they resemble a litter of poorly trained beagles – howling randomly, jumping on each other, and pretending they cannot hear their master’s commands. I avoid yelling across the room.  It makes me look out of control and does not work anyway.  Just as with young pups, orders growled in close proximity are more effective.

The boys are quiet for now, so I am free to listen in on any of the conversations. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

In His Home, 13 Is An Age Flush With Anticipation

Thirteen is a childhood milestone — an age that, for some young people, marks a beginning or ushers in a tradition.
Jewish children, for example, celebrate a bar or bat mitzvah. Many Roman Catholic children receive the sacrament of confirmation.
At the Imwalle household in Hilliard, the milestone carries a new responsibility: cleaning a bathroom.
With 10 children, including six still at home, my wife, Lisa, and I view self-sufficient offspring as a necessity.
Which explains why, by age 3, our children have learned to put their dirty clothes in a hamper and clear their dirty plates from the table.
Such training also helps each Saturday, popularly (or maybe not so popularly) known as “job day.”

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Mystery of the Extra Finger


In 100 Words or Less

We were about halfway to Mad River Mountain.  I was taking Matthew, Sam, Daniel, and Luke snow tubing.  Luke was trying on his gloves.  He said, "I guess I have an extra finger."  I didn't know if he meant on his hand or on his glove.  I told him to take it off and count his fingers - I was sure he had only five on each hand.  Moments later he said it was OK, he just had two of the same glove.  Daniel piped up, "Me too!"  

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Luke and The Hobbit

I have been reading The Hobbit to seven-year-old Daniel and six-year-old Luke for the last several weeks.  We have also watched the cartoon and Peter Jackson movie versions.  Last night, a confused and dismayed Luke asked me why the cartoon elves were old, green, and scary while the elves in the other movie looked like regular people.  I said when you write a book or make a movie, you can make the characters look however you want.  He sat up in bed and asked, "You mean elves aren't real?"

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

National Museum of the United States Air Force - Ohio's Greatest Free Attraction

Air Force Museum, Dayton Ohio

Ohio’s greatest free attraction is the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton.  If you like airplanes, history, or people watching, this place is for you.  The museum contains the world’s best collection of military aircraft – from the Wright 1909 Military Flyer to the YMQ-9 “Reaper” remotely-piloted aircraft currently flying in Afghanistan.

The museum includes an IMAX theater, a reasonably-priced gift shop, and a cafeteria, but the emphasis is clearly the aircraft and related exhibits.

The museum displays the aircraft in chronological order.  The Early Years Gallery’s first exhibit is the 1909 Military Flyer.  Just around the corner is the Wright Brother’s original wind tunnel.  A Fokker Dr. I, similar to the one flown by the Red Baron in World War I, hangs upside down from the ceiling, forever frozen in a dive at a Sopwith Camel parked on the ground.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Fathers, Sons, and Baseball - Cincinnati Reds Memories


I know the Big Red Machine did not win every game they played, but as a kid, it sure seemed like they did.  Even when they were trailing in the late innings, I always believed they would pull out the win.  And more often than not, they did.

My first Reds television memory was the 1970 World Series.  Brooks Robinson’s superb fielding for the Baltimore Orioles still frustrates the eight-year-old boy in me. 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

A PIRATE NAMED MOLLY - 56 Limericks for Kids - Now Available in Paperback

Did you hear the kids' ear-splitting cheer?
The paperback's finally here
A PIRATE NAMED MOLLY
Is ready, by golly
Please order a copy my dear!

Available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and CreateSpace.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

My Dare Devil's Pizza T-Shirt



The Columbus Dispatch
March 7, 2013

“What are you doing?  You can’t wear it!”  I said very quickly.  Lisa’s face did not hide her feelings – it was clearly just a shirt to her.  With a puzzled frown, she took it off.  I gently returned it to its place.  The shirt in question was not just any shirt though.  It was the first shirt I ever bought at Dare Devil’s Pizzeria in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina.  The peach-colored t-shirt had been my favorite since the moment I bought it twenty years ago.  The graphics were great, and I could feel the summer sun on my back whenever I wore it.

We were on our first trip to the Outer Banks in 1992.  One evening Lisa’s parents agreed to watch the kids while we went out.  We walked to Dare Devil’s Pizzeria.  The name is derived from

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Pirate Named Molly - 56 Limericks for Kids - New Kindle eBook

If you got a new Kindle Fire
Of this book you must be a buyer
A Pirate Named Molly
With lim'ricks so jolly
Will certainly lift your mood higher!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hiking At Battelle - Darby Creek - See the Bison!

In 100 Words Or Less 

Lisa, the kids and I went hiking at Battelle - Darby Creek Metropark after dinner.  We threw rocks in the creek and saw the bison.  After about 2 miles, five-year-old Luke was cranky.  He was getting a cold.  So I carried him on my shoulders.  The other kids had run ahead to the playground when we got off the trail.  Luke believes that rules should be followed and will tell you when you've broken one.  Before I even had him on the ground he shouted, "I guess you told yourselves that you were allowed to play on the playground!"

Monday, August 27, 2012

Jerome - Arizona's Secret Ghost Town




After a leisurely dinner, Lisa and I left Sedona at 8:30.  The map indicated that our destination, Prescott Valley, was about 50 miles away.  We settled in for a quick trip.  The sun had set and there would be no moon for several hours.  Stars filled the sky from horizon to horizon.  The evening was still warm.

The headlights of oncoming cars infrequently interrupted our stargazing.  After a while, Lisa noticed a small cluster of lights halfway up a mountain.  You could “see” the mountains only by viewing their silhouettes against the blanket of stars.  Road signs announced we were nearing the town of Cottonwood, but we could not see it.  The tiny outcropping of lights on the mountain was too far away to be Cottonwood.

We crested a small rise and

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Outer Banks Vacation Photo Tips







Here are four simple tips for taking better beach vacation photos.

Get up early. The Outer Banks summer sun rises very early. You must too. Be in position to capture the scene before the sun breaks the horizon. To capture the sunrise over Currituck Beach Lighthouse, you must be out of bed by 5 a.m. To memorialize a flock of pelicans skimming the surf at Hatteras, you must be out of bed by 5 a.m. To record the human flotsam and jetsam of a midnight clambake on Ocracoke, well you get the picture.

Use the setting sun. The midday sun is an unflattering light source. Landscapes appear flat. The lack of shadows eliminates detail. Portraits are worse, unless you like wrinkles and squinty eyes. Though the early morning sun can be effective for lighting outdoor portraits, the evening sun is warmer and lends a nice glow to the human face. Plus, if your family is like mine, you do not see the teenage faces until lunchtime anyway, so plan on an early evening beach portrait session.

Take a chance. I took one of my favorite vacation photos at the end of a marathon three lighthouse daytrip. We began our trek at noon, making a brief stop at Hatteras Lighthouse on our way to the Ocracoke ferry.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sam And The Cookie


In 100 Words Or Less

Almost six-year-old Sam has a chocolate chip cookie, a glass of milk, and a problem. He tells me that the cookie is too big, and he cannot dunk it in his milk. I tell him to break the cookie in half. He does, and grins. I know what is coming. Looking at me, he attempts to put the wide side of the cookie in the glass. He giggles, "It still won't fit!"

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Stranger Danger!

In 100 Words Or Less

Lisa and I taught six-year-old Zach to not talk to strangers, and he took this teaching to heart. Woody, a trusted seventy-something-year-old neighbor, was talking to Zach one day. Woody asked Zach what his name was. Zach, mindful of our admonition, but not wanting to appear rude with a flat refusal, replied, "I don't know!" and ran home.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Photo Ops Extend Visit to Grand Canyon - Columbus Dispatch


Originally published in the Columbus Dispatch.

Photo Ops Extend Visit to Icon

The cliche holds true: The essence of the Grand Canyon cannot be captured in a single photograph.

The length, breadth and depth make a representative shot impossible.

Not that I didn’t try.

In fact, during an adventure-filled 25th-anniversary trip with my wife recently, every moment seemed to become a photo opportunity.

Lisa and I spent one day hiking on the Grand Canyon Rim Trail before eating dinner in the Arizona Room of the Bright Angel Lodge.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Taking Down The Crib

I took down the crib yesterday. My wife, Lisa, and I have had a crib in our home for 23 years. I believed that removing this tangible sign of the near constant obligation to care for infants and toddlers would have little effect on me, but my feelings were surprisingly mixed.


Luke, the youngest of our ten children, turned three a month ago. He never climbed out of the crib, so we could have left him in it a while longer. But we decided it was a good time for the transition. One Saturday morning we told Luke we were going to take down the crib and put up his big-boy bed.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Just Like Harry Potter and Voldemort

They hurl the words at each other like Harry Potter and Voldemort casting spells.  Seven-year-old Sam shouts, "Blood!" at five-year-old Daniel.  Daniel counters, "Bwack eye!"  They throw the words back and forth, each cringing when hit.

Daniel shares his fear of blood with many other children.  He does not want to see it, talk about it, or even think about it.  Sam's fear of black eyes dates from the time I told him to quit fighting with his brothers or he would "end up with a black eye."  That stopped him dead in his tracks, even though he did not know what a black eye was.  Ever since, the mere mention of a black eye causes him to flinch.

These wars of words go on until either they are both too weak to continue, or the headmaster (or headmistress) ends the duel.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Cap'n Crunch

Five-year-old Daniel was recovering from a mouth injury that required several stitches.  He overheard the conversation with the oral surgeon in which the likely loss of 2 - 4 of his baby teeth was discussed.

Daniel was eating breakfast.  His twenty-year-old sister Rachel was sleeping on the couch in the next room.  Suddenly Daniel hollered, something had fallen out of his mouth!  He picked it up, ran to the next room, and woke Rachel up.  Practically hysterical, he showed Rachel what had fallen out of his mouth.  He asked her if it was his tooth.  Rachel looked at the soggy piece of Cap'n Crunch cereal and smiling, told him that it wasn't.  Reassured, he flicked the cereal on the floor, walked to the table and finished his breakfast.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Who Says Teachers Aren't Powerful?

In 100 Words or Less

Zach was a first grader.  The family was eating dinner.  I told Zach that there was a U.S. President with his name.  Zach thought I was pulling his leg, as I often do.  Lisa confirmed my story, though, saying that the president's name was Zachary Taylor.  Zach did not believe her either.  We insisted it was true, even offering to look it up in the encyclopedia.  With a nonchalant shrug, he told us not to bother, he would ask his teacher at school the next day.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Kite And The Brown Pelican

I held the 500 foot reel of string while my nine-year-old son Matthew restrained the tugging kite. At my signal, Matthew released the kite and it leapt out of his hands. Matthew and I took turns letting the kite fly higher and higher until almost no string was left on the reel.


I bought the kite on my family’s first visit to North Carolina’s Outer Banks in the early 1990s, and I have flown it on each return trip. This was a perfect day to fly a kite. The wind coming in off the ocean was steady; there were a few high clouds. The air was warm and the sand was not yet hot.

Scanning the skyline I saw that the pelicans were flying parallel to the shoreline, as usual. Unusually though,

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A "Real" Cake



In 100 Words Or Less

Three-year-old Luke asks Lisa what she is making.   She says that she is baking a rainbow cake for Katie's birthday.  Luke replies that Lisa should get a "real" cake.  Lisa explains that she is baking a real cake.  Luke insists, "No, a real cake from the store!"

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Weather Forecast

In 100 Words Or Less

Ohio just completed its wettest April on record, and May started off just as soggy.  Lisa and I were having our regular lunchtime phone call to discuss the evening's activities and cancellations. (Two scout meetings and track meet to be held as scheduled, two soccer practices and baseball game cancelled due to rain.)  Five-year-old Daniel, listening to Lisa's side of the conversation, consoled her by saying, "It (the newspaper) says it will be sunny tomorrow tomorrow," meaning in two days.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Noodle

In 100 Words Or Less

Seven-year-old Sam is a picky eater.  His preferred diet consists of crackers, butter bread and McDonalds cheeseburgers.  Lisa and I often struggle to "make" him eat what is served.  Last night we had goulash.  Lisa encouraged him to eat two forkfuls.  Sam exclaimed, "But I ate a noodle!"  Lisa responded, "A noodle?"  Sam queried hopefully, "The noodle?"

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Luke and the Tornado Siren

In 100 Words Or Less

The local authorities test the tornado sirens every Wednesday at noon.  The wail is easily heard, even indoors.  Yesterday, at 4:00 in the afternoon, the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning.  The sirens sounded for real.  Three-year-old Luke, with a concerned look on his face, asked Lisa, "Is it time for lunch?"

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Being "Unselfish" Essential - Columbus Dispatch

Originally published in the Columbus Dispatch

Being 'Unselfish' Essential
Saturday, January 2, 2010

By RANDY IMWALLE

Most people have heard of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Pirates of the Caribbean, but I hadn't heard them mentioned at Mass. Deacon Andrew, a young man studying for the priesthood at the Pontifical College Josephinum, began a homily back in 2006 by relating a story about the monkeys used in those movies. Hunters capture such monkeys by making a trap that allows one of the animals to reach inside and grab a nut or a shiny bauble. The hole isn't large enough, though, for the monkey to pull out its nut-laden fist. The monkey could drop the nut at any time and run away, but it doesn't - even when the hunters return. It can't bear to let go of the treasure.

Tying the story to his life, Deacon Andrew told the congregation at St. Brendan church in Hilliard that what he found difficult to let go was the idea of a wife and children. He knew he wanted to become a priest, but

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Daniel and the Crying Chair

In 100 Words or Less

Daniel is 2 1/2 years old and whines constantly. When he whines, he must sit on "the chair" until he stops. Sometimes he'll sit for 10 seconds, sometimes he'll sit for 10 minutes. When he decides he's done, he'll holler, "I'm done crying," and he is allowed off. This strategy works even when we are not near the chair.

We were walking to the car and Daniel started up. Mere mention of the chair stopped Daniel mid-whine, even though his older brother Sam helpfully remarked that he didn't see any chairs around.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Boy Cheese Sandwich

In 100 Words or Less

A favorite family story concerns a five-year-old Ben. When ordering a grilled cheese sandwich, I would wink at the waitress and order a "boy cheese" sandwich. I explain that Ben would not eat a "girl cheese" sandwich.

Eleven years later, Lisa and I have noticed similarities between young Ben and now six-year-old Sam. They both eat like chipmunks, holding their food in both hands and gnawing it. I laugh out loud though when I hear Sam ask Lisa why they are called girl cheese sandwiches when they are for boys too.

The Father Who Had Ten Children



Lisa and I, and eight of our nine children have just finished eating at our local pizza joint. Lisa pulls a present out of the diaper bag and hands it to me. I feign surprise, and ask why she is giving me a gift. It is not my birthday. She smiles and says to open it.
The younger children jostle for position. The older ones shift in their chairs to get a better view. I ask Lisa if she is sure the present is for me. The kids repeat Lisa's request - just open it! I begin to tear away the wrapping paper very slowly. "C'mon Dad!" the little ones cry. When it is finally unwrapped, I ask, "A book, what is this for?" I hold up a copy of Benedicte Guettier's The Father Who Had Ten Children. Our two teenage daughters shriek, "OMG!" in unison. Seven-year-old Katie takes the book and reads it. Frowning a bit she declares, "But we only have nine kids." Her frown changes into a smile when Lisa explains that we are having another baby.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains


“I’m done walking,” Sam declared solemnly, and he stopped. After mountain hikes the two previous days, the prospect yet another overwhelmed him.

On Monday, Lisa and I, and seven of our ten children hiked to the summit of Clingman’s Dome. At 6643 feet, it is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains. To be clear, we drove most of the way. 90 minutes after leaving Gatlinburg, we were standing at the beginning of the trail. To the observation tower is a walk of one half mile – and the path is paved – so how difficult could it be? Serious hikers with sturdy boots and walking sticks jockeyed for position with parents in running shoes pushing strollers and teenagers in flip flops.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hiking at Conkle's Hollow






Conkle’s Hollow is a gorge – 200-300 feet wide and half a mile long. Its Blackhand sandstone cliffs rise almost vertically, 200 feet straight up. The wind and rain have created many recesses and small caves in the sandstone.

Legend has it that one of these recesses still contains the booty of a Shawnee Indian raid of an Ohio River paddleboat. After the Shawnee relieved the passengers of their valuables, they made their way north. A posse trailed the raiding party straight into the dead end cliffs of Conkle’s Hollow. The Shawnee cut down a giant Hemlock, and let it fall against the cliff wall. They climbed up the tree and hid the loot in a small recess. They climbed down and pushed the tree over. The plan was to return when the posse had left, fell another hemlock to use as a ladder, and take the loot at their leisure. But the small party was captured just outside the hollow. They were hanged without telling anyone where they hid the loot.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ben Thinks I'm A Jedi


In 100 Words Or Less

Our family was discussing the latest Star Wars movie. I mentioned that I was a Jedi Knight.  Six-year-old Ben excitedly asked if I was a Jedi Master. I told him no, but I did know a Jedi mind trick – I could send mental messages.

Staring into my daughter’s eyes, I raised my left eyebrow. I asked if she received my message. Smiling she said, “You want Zach to clean his room.” “Correct” I confirmed. Ben had difficulty receiving his message though. After several attempts he finally said, “Dad, can you send me an easier message?”


Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Buckeye In Need Finds A Friend, Indeed


I planted the sapling with little ceremony but much love. I watered and fertilized it under the supervision of the family arborist — my wife, Lisa — and directed our children not to play around it. It is a special tree, I told them — a buckeye. Despite the care and warnings given, the tree barely survived its first year. Somehow, the leader — the branch that the next year would become the trunk — had broken off. The sole clue to the damage: a blue and
yellow ball lying next to the branch. The kids said they hadn’t seen the ball before. Everyone knows how resilient a buckeye is, though. And so, with at least a bit of hope, I spent a long, gray Columbus winter praying that the little tree would survive.

When the redbud blossoms finally broke winter’s grip, I realized that the little tree had sprouted a new leader. It had lost a year’s growth in height but otherwise seemed to be flourishing. (I secretly told myself that

Monday, June 29, 2009

Katie's Corner

by Katie

Luke runs onto the field of my older brother's baseball game for the 2nd time. My mom is not fast enough to catch him, so she calls out “Coach, oh no, coach!” He manages to stop Luke in time for my mom to catch up to him. We all try not to laugh at him because then he will do it again. That would not be funny. Well, then again, maybe it would.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Odyssey (The Red Ring Of Death)




I am marked with the red ring of death. My five comrades know I am mortally wounded, and beyond the healing my comrades can supply. The leader of my comrades, barely a young man, and my younger comrades, just boys, all of them, are disconsolate. But the leader of my comrades has rumor of a community of restorers that can give me new life. So my comrades enshroud me in a soft white covering, and then place me in a rugged caisson for the journey. It is said that this community of restorers resides five hundred or more leagues distant, far to the south, where it is ever warm, and even hot. My comrades do not know the way however. And even if my comrades did possess such knowledge, my comrades could not undertake such a journey. The masters of my comrades will not permit my comrades to forfeit training, the masters of my comrades not regarding my restoration as essential as do my comrades.


There is extant the brown travelers, a guild of professional conveyors, dressed all in brown, shod always with sturdy footwear, and the brown travelers offer to convey me south to

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Katie And The Sore Throat

Katie and the Sore Throat

Poor Katie. She was six at the time, and had two sisters and six brothers. Worse, the five siblings surrounding her are brothers. Aggravating Katie is the boy's mission. Being aggravated is Katie's job, and she fights back with (mostly) verbal punches.One night, Katie tells Lisa that her throat hurts, "When I scream at the boys real loud." Lisa replies, "Don't scream at the boys real loud." We know that her sore throat was not caused by screaming, though, since she does that constantly. Two days later, the doctor confirms that Katie has strep.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Father of 10 Turns Bath Time Into A Career


I was sitting recently on the side of the bathtub, studying my knees. Were those calluses? Before long, the answer dawned on me: The hardened spots had resulted from kneeling near the tub while bathing my children.

Early in our marriage, my wife, Lisa, and I tacitly agreed that I would be responsible for baths. Through the years, the chore became another task I do with little introspection. I still don’t tend to nearly half the work at home, even when I’m there, so I’m not complaining.

The calluses did make me wonder, though, how many baths I might give in my “career” as a father. (I’m a baseball fan, so statistics intrigue me.)

I bathe the kids about every other day (with Lisa pinch-hitting for me when I am on the road). Conservatively

Saturday, May 16, 2009


EVEN NON-IRISH BLESSED WITH GOOD FORTUNE
By Randy Imwalle

Originally published in the Columbus Dispatch on March 14, 2009.

No Irish blood runs through my veins, but I have long considered St. Patrick's Day special. Luck seems to find me. When I was younger, I looked forward to the holiday as a continuation of my birthday (on March 16). Later, I learned about the real St. Patrick and developed a passion for Irish music.

Patrick was born in Scotland to Roman parents about A.D. 387. As a boy, he was kidnapped and taken to