Ohio Scottish Games 2012
The humming of hundreds of bagpipes filled the air and blew crinkles into kilts at the Ohio Scottish Games at the Lorain County Fairgrounds over the weekend.
The reason for the overwhelming turnout by the Scots and their descendants was twofold.
First, the OSG was a real opportunity for people who belong to something small, like their bloodline, to be able to be tied to something huge, like the history of an entire country.
That historical tie-in was also wrapped around camping, bagpiping, dancing, eating, and gawking at fashion and style that only happens at festivals for some.
Secondly, the plaid-drenched occupants were there to find out how their heritage should progress, as first-generation born parents are now raising second, and second soon raising third generation born American children.
How long will the kilts and clans be remembered and honored traditionally, before each new generation associates with an American history and past?
Under beer tent one, two U.S. Navy vets sat, separated by 20 years of life. The younger man, Bill Kennedy, was joined by his teenage daughter, both wearing kilts. The older man, Richard Smith, sat in a wheel chair wearing jeans.
“I was a combat cameraman in the Navy. One of the craziest times was going downtown Port-au-Prince (Haiti) during their carnival. Being a cameraman, I got to go off base and be on the ground. I was the last with a 45 caliber. I only had 18 rounds, wouldn’t want to get into a fire fight with that. It was wild there, but not as wild as the Scots,” Kennedy said.
As Kennedy’s daughter, Erin Kennedy, grows, her memory, although filled at the OSG, will be of war stories her father had while serving the United States, not Scotland.
Out of beer tent one, and across the grandstand by the tracks, the Royal Canadian Legion Ladies Drill Team was assembled and ready to perform. Shortly before they took the stage erected underneath a grove of massive black walnuts, two national songs were played.
“Flower of Scotland” came bellowing out of the public address system first, behind the crackling and spitting of the fair speaker system. Half the crowd stood up, placed hands over hearts, behind backs, saluted. When the “Star Spangled Banner” came on, however, it seemed to assert itself over the crowd, as everyone rose, and heard growing silence over noise.
Wedged between a long-necked walnut and a tent, Carl Stuard stood slanted, and in full view of the stage and festivities, fully armed.
“My targe (shield) was historically researched. There is a targemaker website that does the research for your name and makes you the exact one. You see here on the back, it’s red deer (fur), native to that area of Scotland. I have a spike too, you just take it out of the boss, and then flip it and screw it back into the boss (center metal circle on targe),” Stuard said, as the shield had become an offensive stabbing weapon.
“Clan Stuart of Buke. I’m a Stuard because when they came across and got to Ellis Island, they changed the name from Stuart to Stuard, make it easier.
“Clan Stuart of Buke is from the island off of Scotland. My grandmother, who was a Wallace, is a descendant of William Wallace. You’ve seen ‘Braveheart,’ right? Well she’s from that clan. She just passed away. She was 97, and she would wear a Wallace broach from that clan,” Stuard said.
Along with the kilt, targe, and Clan Stuart shirt, Stuard also possessed two knifes. The shorter one, around four inches, was tucked in along his waistband. The longer hung along his leg.
“My Dirk knife is Damascus steel, specially made by Micheal O’Machearley. It’s got the double edge on top and it’s long. I wore this whole outfit in a picket line in Toledo when the company locked us out,” Stuart said.
From the Walnut groves past the fair-food vendors and beside the barns, a Border Collie was herding sheep. The dog’s owner was explaining how historically the Border Collie herded livestock and sheep along the English Scottish borders and how the dog knew tens of commands.
No matter where the dog’s owner walked around the sheep ring, the collie would cut off angles, direct, and herd the sheep to his feet with total efficiency and speed.
Next to the gated-in sheep, kickstand-leaned two rows of Norton, BSA and Triumph motorcycles. A man was staring at the small gap between a gas tank and a seat.
“The S-type, the tank sits relative to the seat, but this one, tank sits too far forward. The crank tube has too much rubber on it,” said Norton rider Larry Loucka.
“My first bike was in 1970. It was a junker and when I brought it home my wife promptly named it ‘The piece of (crap).’ I love the old bikes, that’s why I now have an eight-car garage,” Loucka said.
“It’s an odd sensation riding a (motor) bike. When I was a kid, my dad said I never learned to ride a bike, I just got on and did it. But a motorcycle is a different feeling. Used to go to Brookside park, it’s no longer open, and speed around the S-curve. When you fell it didn’t hurt because you were so close to the ground,” Loucka said.
In terms of his culture’s historical identity, Loucka said, “In 1903 my dad was born in the Czech Provence of Moravia. They used to call me Lawrence of Moravia. So I’m from there, but also a Czech. But I’m an American now.
“It’s not like the Slovaks, they decided not to stay with Czechoslovakia, it was the total sum of their aggravation,” Loucka said.
A younger man from Clan Echhardt, while watching the hammer toss, saw his friend in a tight shirt and said, “Abercrombie called, they want their ‘swee-dium’ sized shirt back.”
The friend replied, “What are you talking about man, your arm is bleeding. Go get a Band-Aid.”
“I’m an Echhardt, we don’t clean wounds,” said the Echhardt member, and he continued to watch the athletic events while his blood seeped onto the white border fence.
Near the exit gates, John Blackemon was explaining to observers, with a red-tailed falcon on his arm, how 500 years of Scottish falconry had been passed down to him.
“You know Robert the Bruce, well I am a direct descendant,” Blackemon said.
Kids were allowed to come up carefully and pet the falcon, “Just pet it with one finger, nice and easy,” Blackemon said.
To which the mother of Liam and Morgan McAdams said, “Pet with one finger, leave with five.”
Brake lights and dust poured out of the fairgrounds at the conclusion of the games, where the sons of Scotland celebrated their heritage, and the American sons of the sons of Scotland were left wondering how their heritage would be celebrated 500 years from now.
by ADAM FOX