Object #2: FDR Campaign Pin

IMG_0758The 2nd object in this series is a replica of a Franklin D. Roosevelt campaign pin from the Election of 1940. FDR was the first president to seek a third term in office. This was not originally in his plans, as he was dealing with dangerous hypertension by the last year of his second term. The outbreak of World War II in Europe, as well as the Empire of Japan’s aggression in Asia, added to FDR’s stress levels on a daily basis. He ultimately decided to seek a third term due to the uncertainty in the world. There was also a lack of a strong successor at this time, as the Democratic Party had different factions. FDR was also worried about a “rookie” president trying to learn on the job with the tense international situation. He knew that he was taking a risk by seeking a third term as president, breaking the unofficial tradition that was started by George Washington in 1796. Washington could have easily won a third term, but he was exhausted by the end of his second term, and wanted to retire to his estate, Mount Vernon. Undaunted by the unofficial tradition, FDR won the Democratic nomination for a 3rd term.

His opponent was businessman Wendell Willkie (one of the most unique names in American political history!) Willkie ran a very spirited campaign, and made a much better showing against FDR than his opponents in the previous two elections. However, the uncertainty in Europe, as well as FDR winning traditional Democratic strongholds, led to a comfortable victory. The President won 449 electoral votes to Willkie’s 82.

I purchased this replica pin at FDR’s Presidential Library and Museum at his home in Hyde Park, New York. Hyde Park is about an 8 hour drive from Cleveland, and it is located in the beautiful Hudson River Valley. The museum is excellent, and has many great exhibits and artifacts. My two personal favorites are FDR’s actual Oval Office desk, exactly set up the way it looked on the day he died in 1945. The other would be his customized Ford convertible coupe. The car has a hand brake, as FDR could not use his legs due to his polio. If you are even remotely interested in Presidential History, this historic site is well worth the drive.

Object #3 will be up later this week. Thanks for reading!





Object #1: Cleveland Municipal Stadium


This is a model of Cleveland Municipal Stadium that sits in my home office. The Stadium was built during the Great Depression, and opened for business in 1931. There was some talk of Cleveland trying to host the Olympics when the Stadium was being built. When it opened, it was the largest open air arena in the world, with a seating capacity of over 78,000. The first event held there was a championship boxing match in July of 1931. The Cleveland Indians played their first game at the Stadium in July of 1932, but they still played the majority of their home games at League Park, their original home, at East 66th Street and Lexington Avenue in the Hough neighborhood on the eastside of Cleveland. (A community baseball diamond is on the League Park site today.) The Indians did not make Cleveland Stadium their permanent home until 1947.

The Stadium was home to the NFL’s Cleveland Rams until the end of the 1945 season, which saw the Rams win the NFL championship. Their owner, Dan Reeves, then announced in early 1946 that he was moving the Rams to Los Angeles. One of the reasons that he moved was the fact that Cleveland was awarded a franchise in the new All-American Football Conference, an upstart league that wanted to challenge the NFL. This would not have been a big deal, except that the new team was going to be coached by former Ohio State football coach and Ohio legend Paul Brown. The Cleveland Browns began playing in Cleveland Stadium in September of 1946. In their first 10 years of existence, they appeared in 10 straight league championship games, winning 7 of them. The Browns also played in the very first Monday Night Football game vs. the New York Jets at the Stadium in 1970.

Cleveland Stadium also hosted a number of huge rock concerts during its lifetime. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Aerosmith, Bruce Springsteen, U2, and many others. The first concert that I ever went to was to see the Stones on their “Steel Wheels” tour in September of 1989 at the Stadium.

The Stadium was a great venue for football, but it was terrible for baseball. The playing field was too far away from the stands, and the upper deck and the partial roof were supported by steel pillars throughout the building. A number of these pillars had seats right behind them! I sat in one of these “pillar seats” at a Browns/49ers Monday Night Football game in 1993! During the late 80’s, the owners of the Indians were being courted by other cities with newer stadium plans to move the franchise. The taxpayers of Cuyahoga County approved a “sin tax” on alcohol and tobacco in 1990 to build a new baseball only stadium and an arena in the Gateway area of Downtown Cleveland. These became Jacobs Field (now Progressive Field) and Gund Arena (now RocketMortgage Field House.)

The Indians moving out left the Browns’ as the only tennant of Cleveland Stadium in 1994. Sadly, the Browns’ owner (who I will not mention by name) moved the franchise to Baltimore in 1996. His main complaint was that the Stadium could not compete with newer facilities that generated more revenue for the team. Cleveland Stadium was slated for demolition in November of 1996. Fans were given one last opportunity to walk through the Stadium and say goodbye in September of 1996. I still have a chunk of the 40 yard line’s turf in a ziplock bag here in my house.

Cleveland Stadium was cold, would get bug infestations off of Lake Erie in early summer, did not have enough restrooms, and many other faults. However, there was no better place in the world to be win the Browns were winning. There’s no venue that could get as loud as that old steel and concrete fortress on Lake Erie. Even if the Browns ever are competitive again, nothing will replicate the old days at the Stadium. Late Browns’ radio announcer Nev Chandler called it “Pandemonium Palace” and with good reason. There was nothing like it, and there never will be again.

History in Random Objects From My House

Hi Again Everyone,

I hope that everyone is adjusting to our new version of “normal” while we are away from the halls of I.H.S. It is very difficult to not get to see all of you every day, but hopefully, we will be back in business very soon. I know that the teachers miss all of you as well.

In the meantime, I am going to start posting mini-history lessons based on historical objects and stuff that I have here at my house. It will American History, Pop Culture, Cleveland and Cleveland Sports History, and all sorts of stuff! My goal is to entertain you and help you pass the time as we wait to head back to I.H.S. The first post will be up on Wednesday, March 25th.

Stay healthy and safe, and as always…BE A BLUE DEVIL!! Hope to see you soon!


Mr. McGuinness

Getting Back To Blogging

Hi Again Everyone,

Since one of my new year’s resolutions was to start blogging again on a regular basis (and it’s now late February), it’s time to get going!

When I was a history teacher, students would sometimes ask “where do you get all these stories from?” whenever I’d drop in some random bit of trivia about the topic at hand. A good example of this was the name of Teddy Roosevelt’s 2 horses that he took to Cuba during the Spanish-American War, Little Texas and Rain-In-The-Face. The vast majority of these tidbits came from one source: books! For my first blogging project of 2020, I will discuss my 10 favorite books of all time. The first review will go up during the week of 2/23/20. I hope that the posts might inspire you to check some of these books out. Let me know what you think. Thanks!

P.S.: Little Texas is the only horse that Teddy rode into battle in Cuba. Poor Rain-In-The-Face drowned in the confusion of landing the troops off of the Navy ships.

To take A.P., or to not take A.P. (that is the question…)

Hi again, everyone. I apologize for the long delay between Blog posts. I hope that all is well with you!

We are officially off and running here in the 3rd academic quarter. Students, I hope that the new quarter is going well for you so far. We are just on the cusp of getting into scheduling for the 18-19 school year. Every year, we have students ask us whether or not they should take an Advanced Placement class. A.P. courses offer high school students the chance to take on the highest level of rigorous college-level work and the opportunity to earn college credit. As a former A.P. United States history teacher, I am always excited to talk about the benefits of the program. Here are some things to think about when considering taking an A.P. course…

If you are a really passionate about a subject area, a corresponding A.P. course is worth considering. The courses give students a chance to really go in-depth on topics and ideas. The classes also give students the opportunity to be active participants in their learning. Whether it is working on a complex lab assignment, leading a class discussion, or playing a Progressive Era reformer in a class activity, A.P. courses give you the chance to really go to the next level.

A.P. courses also give high school students the opportunity to develop and sharpen their critical thinking skills before heading off to college. This can make the transition to the challenges of freshman year at college much easier for students. These skills will provide a lifetime of benefits.

If you are considering applying to a very selective college or university, A.P. coursework may provide you with an extra edge in the application process. All A.P. courses must be authorized by the College Board to ensure that they are challenging enough to earn the A.P. designation. In other words, when a college sees the A.P. courses on a student’s transcript, they know exactly how challenging that class is. It is the highest standard of academic rigor and excellence at the high school level.

A qualifying grade on an A.P. exam can earn you college credit, and save you thousands of dollars in tuition and textbook fees. Additionally, the college credits that you may earn via A.P. exams can get you out of introductory level college courses, and into something more interesting. For example, A.P. credit could get you out of English 101 and give you the opportunity to take a Shakespeare course or a critical writing class as a college freshman.

A.P. classes are challenging, but they are NOT impossible. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “It is hard to fail, but it is worse to have never tried to succeed.” You get only one chance at high school, so consider challenging yourself with the most rigorous courses that you can take.  We hope that you will consider joining the LEGION of former I.H.S. students who have found success in the A.P. program!

For more information and resources, please visit http://www.exploreap.org.

If you have any questions or comments regarding A.P. classes, please see your guidance counselor or myself. Happy Scheduling Season!

The Best Fans in the Land!

Anyone who is a truly dedicated fan of a team really has to be willing to go the extra mile. You will experience the “thrill of victory and the agony of defeat”, like the old introduction to ABC’s Wide World of Sports used to say. If you are a Cleveland Browns’ fan, you will experience decades of perpetual disappointment, and wonder how this all happened…

Fortunately for Independence Blue Devil fans, this fall sports season was the most successful in the history of our school district. A state title, a regional championship, district championships, sectional titles, it was truly a season without peer. One of the best parts of this fall season was the SENSATIONAL work that was put in by our I.H.S. Student Spirit Section! Week after week, our student section made the effort to support and cheer our athletes on. This included both home and away contests. Our Student Section could always be counted on to get the fan base fired up.

I have two favorite memories of the Student Section from this fall. The first one is from Saturday, October 28th. The Student Section made the trip out to Elyria High School to cheer on the volleyball team in the District Final. After that, many of members of the Student Section, along with the entire volleyball team, made the trip to Berea to cheer on the Boys’ Soccer team in their District Final. It was a bitterly cold day for late October, with a biting wind. This did not stop our Student Section from turning out to cheer on the team.

It is amazing how transforming the power of school spirit can be. The genuine support that our students have shown for each other during this fall season will never be forgotten! Thanks to everyone who makes up our TREMENDOUS Student Spirit Section! We are proud of you! See you at our winter sporting events!IMG_7874img_7873.jpg

Some Belated Thanks…

I hope that all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving break, and enjoyed the time off with family and friends. We hosted Thanksgiving this year, and I did not get a chance to post this before Thanksgiving Day (due to the fact that we put off almost all of the cleaning until the last minute.) Since the Christmas decorations are not up yet, the spirit of Thanksgiving is still in our house. With that spirit in mind, here are some belated thanks…

I am thankful…

for my family, and all the patience and support that they give me in this job. I would be nothing without them.

for my close circle of childhood friends, as we are still together in our fourth decade of friendship. There’s nothing like friends remembering stories from 30 years ago like it was last week!

for co-workers that I regard as my second family. If you find a job that you love, and great people to work with,  you are truly blessed.

that I get to work with great students week after week, and  that they always make me laugh really hard at least once every day. It’s awesome to get to share their school experience on a daily basis.

for our great community that supports our school district and our students. There is no place like Independence!

for all of the great teachers that I had growing up, and for the time they took to understand us as individuals. They are the ones that really made me appreciate how important it is for a teacher to connect and engage with kids.

that so many of my former students stay in touch, and that several have moved home to Independence to raise their own kids. That is truly awesome!

to live in a country that gives unlimited opportunities and freedoms to its citizens. And I am equally thankful for the men and women who came before us to give us our freedoms, and for those brave individuals who protect these freedoms today.

that Grandpa McGuinness’ love of football transferred to me back in 1979.

that I got rid of my Browns’ season tickets after 2014. I’m also thankful that I’m old enough to remember when the Browns were REALLY good and relevant. (30 years ago!)

for all of the dogs that I have owned in my lifetime. The loyalty and love of a dog cannot be matched!

that John Lennon met Paul McCartney by chance in 1957 in Liverpool, and I’m thankful for the love of The Beatles that my Mom gave me. (She wore out two copies of Abbey Road on vinyl when I was a little kid.)

The list of things to be thankful for is truly endless. As this year is starting to wind down, I hope that all of us have the opportunity to reflect on what really matters, and all of the people, places, and experiences that we have to be thankful for.

“Remember to take a break and be thankful for what you have, where you’ve been, and for what lies ahead.”








A Mighty Oak From a Single Acorn

You never can tell when a great idea on paper will turn into an AMAZING idea in real life. We were lucky enough to have that happen at Independence High School five years ago. One of our Middle School teachers, Mr. Karl Schuld, approached us with the idea of starting a Varsity Girls Golf team, which we had never had before. For anyone who has ever been a head coach, you know how much time and energy gets put into that endeavor. Now, imagine what it would be like to start a high school varsity sport from scratch! Mr. Schuld was willing to invest the hundreds of hours of planning and organizing to give the team its start four years ago. Just starting the team from scratch was already a huge success story.  Mr. Schuld told me in 2014 that he would get this team to the OHSAA state tournament within 5 years. I have always known Mr. Schuld to be a man of his word, but this was an amazing promise. Little did we know what lay in the future…

In 2015, in only its second year, the team made it to the district tournament in Canton. Again, an incredible achievement. In 2016, the team finished SECOND at the state tournament at Ohio State. This was a unique achievement, as no one had heard of a team that had reached such lofty heights in only its third year of existence. There was a great deal of celebrating this achievement, but you could tell that the girls were not satisfied with second place, even though there are no guarantees that you will get back to the state tournament. It would be a huge hill to climb.

The team was “locked in” this season from the first tournament this past August.  All season long, the team racked up win after win, but there was only one goal in mind, and that goal was waiting at The Ohio State University Golf Course. All of the hard work, grit, and determination brought the team back to Columbus on October 13th for the state tournament.  Again, there are no guarantees in life: Someone could have a tough round, someone could get injured, the winds could be tricky on either day of the tournament. All the girls could do is go out and give it their best shot.

On Saturday, October 14th, the I.H.S. Girls Varsity Golf team completed the mission, as they were crowned as state champions, in only their fourth year of existence! This was the first championship by a girls team in the 95-year history of our school district. Seniors Lyndsay Blum, Maddie Harper, Madeline Mindzora, and Sophia Trombetta were with the program at its very start, and they will be leaving I.H.S. as  state champions. We will be honoring the team on Thursday, November 2nd at 9 a.m. in the I.H.S. Auditorium. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Again, this was all just an idea five years ago, and now it has resulted in a state title and a program that is primed for many more successful years. Congratulations to all members of the team and to Coach Schuld for a job VERY well done!


The Ones That Stay With You

It is my hope that all of us have had at least one teacher who really made a huge impression on us at some point. I have been extremely fortunate, as I have had a bunch of terrific teachers over the years. The truly great ones make you look forward to their class every day. I had a few in high school that were truly exceptional. Mr. Kelley, my Pre-A.P. U.S. History teacher, who had a great sense humor and storytelling ability. Dr. Powaski, for A.P. U.S. History, who was one of the most brilliant people I’ve ever met, and was a published author. Mr. Gubitosi for Latin I and II. He had a deep love for the art of teaching, and truly cared about our learning as students.

The one who stands at the top of the mountain was my Algebra I and Algebra II teacher, Mr. Serra. He is the single-most engaging teacher that I have ever met. When I started high school, I was drowning in my Algebra I placement. The teacher was very nice, but my skill sets were not up to par for the pace of her class. My guidance counselor told me before Christmas Break that I would be transferred to Mr. Serra’s Algebra I class after vacation.

During break, I saw Mr. Serra at basketball practice. He was walking through the gym, and I told him that I would be in his class after vacation. I wanted to tell him that he was inheriting me, my 54% grade in Algebra I, and that I had zero self-confidence when it came to higher math. The look on my face must have said it all, as Mr. Serra said: “Don’t worry there, William. It’s all going to work out.” I appreciated his kind words, but I thought that he had no idea how lost I was.

Within the first two weeks of being in his class, Mr. Serra had taken my shattered confidence and built it up. I was solving equations and working complex problems with ease. He was never too busy to meet with any of us before or after school, or during his planning time. The time in his class flew by every day, as Mr. Serra would crack jokes, hit the board with his yardstick to make a point, sing, and do anything to keep our attention. I always talk to my students now about building “the foundation” to set themselves up for the future. Mr. Serra is one of those people that helped me build a foundation. My mother liked to use the phrase “magic people”, meaning that there are some individuals that can really have a great impact on you at key moments. Mr. Serra certainly fits that definition. I always taught with a yardstick in my hand as a daily tribute to him. (My original yardstick was the first thing that I hung up in the I.H.S. principal’s office in 2011.)

I last saw Mr. Serra in 2012, when my Mom passed away. He came to the funeral home, as my younger brother and sister were also lucky enough to have him as a teacher. When I saw him, I said: “There’s the greatest math teacher of them all.” Being Mr. Serra, he said “where?”, and turned around to look behind where he was standing. His sense of humor is still intact, all these years later.

If you ever had a teacher like Mr. Serra in your life, consider taking the time to thank them. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been out of school for decades or if you are still a student. The kindness of an email, note, or a call from a former student has a tremendous impact on a teacher. The best teachers always stay with you, no matter how long ago you were in class.

In Praise of (Paper) Books…

At some point in our lives, we were probably given the dreaded summer reading assignment. My daughter kept a McGuinness family tradition alive by waiting until two days before school started to get going on her assignment. She did get everything finished just under the wire (another family tradition.) When I asked her what she thought of the book, she stated “ehhhh…it was kind of boring.” I think this happens to many of us when we are assigned things to read, not necessarily of our own choosing. I know that my most tedious summer reading project was Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations” heading into 11th grade Honors English. I knew that it was an important book, and I knew what Dickens meant to English literature, but I did not enjoy one bit of it. Again, when the word “assigned” pops up, a sense of dread sets in…

Today is National Read a Book day in the United States. I would wager that most of us absolutely love our devices and modern technology. It can be difficult to remember what life was like before the advent of the iPhone a decade ago. Now, it is hard to imagine daily life without one. That being said, there is still great satisfaction in reading a book, a real one made out of paper. There is a greater connection between the reader and the tangible feel of a real book, plus you usually retain more from reading a paper book. My greatest weakness in life is spending money on biographies and history books, even though it has been 7 years since I have taught history.  All of the great tidbits and insights that I was able to put into my history lessons came from all of the outside reading that I did on my own.

I challenge everyone to try to read at least one book of your own choosing before the end of September. Don’t pick something based on your classwork, don’t pick an AR book, don’t pick something that someone told you that you “should” read. Just pick something that interests you. The Civil War, football, astronomy, anything you want. I guarantee you that it is time well spent. Happy National Read a Book Day to all!

“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.”

–Walt Disney