Brian Hoffman column – November 9, 2017



“Team Wally” members are, left to right; Scott Stephenson, Dale Drennen, Wally
Walowac, Abby Trenor, Willy Wilhelm and Henry “Brad” Bradley.

At 84 years old Salem’s Wally Walowac is still on a team.

Walowac is a former basketball player for Marshall University. He was the first member of the Thundering Herd to have his number (#20) retired and he’s in the college Hall of Fame. Wally played professionally for the Akron Goodyear Wingfoots in the National Industrial Basketball League in the ‘50s where he was a standout 5’11” guard. He played from 1956 to ’59 with players from Duke, N.C. State, Kentucky and other big time schools, and was one of the better players on the team.

Wally’s probably about 5’ 9 ½” at this point in his life but he’s still inspiring teammates at the Salem YMCA.  A group of  “Y Rats” have rallied behind him to stay fit.

“He’s a wonderful man and very humble,” said Salem’s Henry Bradley. “A group of us have gotten to know him well and we had t-shirts made in Marshall colors with his number 20 on them, and they say “Team Wally.”

The group enjoys Wally’s basketball stories and working out with him.

“To me it’s like having a Jerry West living here and no one knowing,” said Bradley. “Of course we always kid him that he only scored so often because he never passed the ball.”



I don’t like the cold and I don’t like the dark. I don’t know that I could live in Alaska.

Daylight Savings ended last weekend and I’m not happy about it. This week it’s getting dark around 5:30 pm and that really throws a wrench into my walk schedule. I usually walk about an hour a day and I like to go on the trail by the river, but when it gets dark by 5:30 pm that makes it tough.

I’m sure there’s a reason why we go back to normal time at this time of year. I’ve heard it’s so the farmers can get to work early, and I’ve heard it’s so the kids don’t have to stand in the dark in the morning to wait for the bus. I don’t know what the real reason is, but I suppose the farmers could adjust their schedule and work an hour later in the evening. And, when I was a kid, I know I didn’t like it getting dark early because that cut in on my outside playtime.

I’ll bet if I stood on the corner and asked 100 people if they’d like to have Daylight Savings time all year long, 95 or more would say they would. Of course, there’s only one person who really counts and I have no idea who that person would be.

Maybe a vampire.



Speaking of throwing me off my schedule, I had to take time out from my busy Tuesday “Get the Paper Ready” schedule to go vote.

I always vote. I think there was just one time since I was 18 that I didn’t vote. That was an election for Salem City Council and the only candidates were running unopposed, so I didn’t see the point. I guess it could have been a “show of confidence” vote, but I determined those folks had plenty of confidence already.

It’s ironic that election season always falls at a time when the leaves are turning colors. The many signs littering the landside take away from the natural beauty of the fall leaves. I’d stop to take a photo of a beautiful country scene; only to have it vandalized by a sign the order of “Vote for Chase Beagle, Republican for Dog Catcher.”

I find the yard signs to be amusing. Only one time have I ever had a sign in my yard, when the late Roger Surber was running for sheriff. He was a good friend of mine and I elected to bend my principles to support him.

Often times I have more than one person who I know, and like, on the ballot. And if you put more than one sign in your yard you’re somewhat defeating the purpose. It would be like the person who flies a flag of their favorite team at their home, and they have flags for Cowboys, Redskins, Eagles and Giants all flapping above the threshold. Colorful, but pointless.

Have you driven by the Salem Post Office in the last month? In the yard across the street there were a dozen signs for just about every candidate running for something. The fact is, when there are so many signs you can’t actually read ANY of them as you pass by at the lawful speed limit. And if you slow down to read them, expect a horn to sound behind you.

I hate to think anyone would decide their vote on who has the most signs in the neighborhood. Unless, of course, you own FastSigns.

Maybe next election I’ll enlist my grandson to drive around with me the week before voting day. He can take a clipboard and record the number of signs we see of every candidate, and the one with the most signs will be the one I vote for. That would be democracy at work.

And another thing. I vote at the Salem Civic Center, and I always slip in the front door, by the elevator, to avoid all the folks handing out literature at the side door. It was raining when I voted Tuesday so I thought that might thin the crowd, but that wasn’t the case.

I knew whom I was going to vote for a month ago. I’m not going to change my mind standing in line at the civic center because someone slipped me a flyer with their name on it as I’m walking in the door. In truth, I’ve been throwing those same flyers in the trash for the past month when they showed up in my mailbox every day. However, at least when they come in the mail I read them before disposing.

Yes sir, printers, TV and radio stations and the sign guys are the ones who really love election time. My former boss, the late Ray Robinson, would never take a political stand in our paper because his stand was, “I like So-and-So, but his opponent buys advertising, too.”

And better in the newspaper than in front of my autumn landscapes.


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