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Buckeye Weekend

We went to Ohio over the weekend, the first time to visit that state for me. The first stop was a small town called Tiffin about 75 miles north of Columbus where my cousin, Rob Huntington, was being inaugurated as the 14th president of Heidelberg University. I’ve never been to an academic celebration of pomp and circumstance before, (I didn’t even attend my own graduation ceremonies) and I found it quite impressive – the robes, music, speeches, processionals, poems and symbols of office were really something else.




From Tiffin, we dropped back down near Columbus to another small college town, Granville, to visit Tony and Carla Beckerley and their family. Tony built Little Louie’s Deli in Point Richmond into a highly successful business before relocating to Ohio about ten years ago. The Beckerleys bought and now operate the Granville Inn, an 86-year old hotel that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and looks like it should be in some venerable national park. Tony has become a pillar of his community, having just been elected to a second term on the local school board and currently serving as Rotary Club president.


Below, the Beckerley family (along with Shirley) in front of the Granville Inn. Left to right, Will, Laura, Tony Carla and Jackson.





Tiffin is also the home of a small college, Denison University. In fact, it seems like every small town in Ohio has a thriving college or university, although Ohio with 194 is only fifth in the nation for number of accredited degree-granting institutions.


The drive from Columbus to Tiffin is mainly rural, but having just read The Omnivore’s Dilemma, I was disappointed that it was pretty much a factory farm corn monoculture. I thought the corn belt was further west.



These small Ohio towns truly look like the “American Heartland.” They still have their functioning traditional downtowns and 100-year old neighborhoods. Not a front yard fence in sight. Tiffin has lost some industrial employers to China and has taken a population hit, dropping from 20,000 to 16,000.


Granville, on the other hand, is somewhat of a tourist attraction and a chic Columbus suburb. The town owns a lot of amenities (new library, golf course, trails and new schools) for a village of only 3,200, excluding about 2,000 students at Denison. Tony said money is not a problem for his school district.


Refreshingly, no one I talked to had heard about the Richmond High gang rape, but lots of them asked about the Bay Bridge closure.