By Sports Editor Brian Hoffman

Brian Hoffman

Who is that masked man pictured in this week’s column head?

It’s not the Lone Ranger, in fact far from it. It’s your weekly newspaper sports editor trying to set a good example during the continuing pandemic.

Today is day 50 AG of this coronavirus, and if you haven’t been following along that means 50 days since Rudy Gobert was diagnosed with the virus and halted a Utah Jazz game just before the tip-off. After Gobert (AG) sports as we know it came to a screeching halt, and believe it or not that was now seven weeks ago.

I’ve been doing my best to abide by the rules set down by our governor, Ralph Northam. I’m trying to stay six feet away from everyone except my wife, and I know she’s clean since she hasn’t left our property except to go to the mail box since Rudy tested positive. I’m still going to the office four or five days a week and once a day I take a walk in a park, which is the highlight of my day during this pandemic. I try to remember to wash my hands and when I see people I know I give ‘em “the elbow” instead of a laurel and hearty handshake.

As for wearing the face mask, I haven’t been as good with that. I have four or five large colored handkerchiefs with designs on them like Bruce Springsteen might wear as a headband. I tie it behind my head when I go into the grocery store but I feel like I should be robbing a stage coach instead of buying chicken thighs and ice cream. “Your toilet paper or your life!!!!” is what I feel like saying.

My wife is always trying to keep me safe, which puzzles me since I have more life insurance than I do money in the bank. However, she’s like that and she bugs me about covering my face. Recently she asked if I’d wear a mask if she “made one,” and I said I might, although I didn’t even know she could sew.

At this point let me give you a little background on my family history. My grandmother on my mom’s side, Dorothy Detweiler, was a fantastic sewer. She was an absolute whiz on the sewing machine.

When I was a kid, every summer about the middle of July we’d go over to my grandparents’ house and she would measure me. . . .arm length, waist, neck, etc. Then, just before Labor Day when school was about to begin, she’d have a rack of six or eight beautiful shirts she made that fit me just perfectly. Looking back I didn’t appreciate it as much at the time, but when I got older I realized what a truly nice thing that was for her to do.

She also made dresses for my sister and even little doll clothing for her Barbie and Ken dolls, which were made by Mattel in case I need to point that out for legal issues. My grandfather, who was equally good at woodworking, would make little hangers and a clothes rack for the doll garments, but that’s a story for another time.

My grandmother’s talent for sewing did not pass down to my mom. In fact, she hated to sew and wasn’t all that good at it. Everyone has their talents and weaknesses and my mom had plenty of talents, but sewing was not one of them.

We had a Singer sewing machine in our TV room that was rarely used. The sewing machine folded under so it was basically a table for most of the time, topped by a big radio for 11 months of the year and the Christmas Nativity Scene during December. When my parents passed away I inherited the sewing machine and it’s now in our front room, and a couple weeks ago it was serving the same purpose, a table by the window. And, ironically enough, a radio was on top.

That’s when my wife, Doris, went to work. She cleared off the “table” and examined the sewing machine, which is at least 70 years old. My parents were married in 1949 and I’m pretty sure they got it around that time, maybe earlier.

Doris plugged in the sewing machine and, believe it or not, it fired right up. She sent off for some oil and a couple parts that needed to be replaced as well as some material to make face masks to keep us all safe. She found a place on the internet where she could buy material with Philadelphia Eagles and Phillies logos with which to make the masks. You see, she figured if she could make a mask representing something I like I might actually wear it.

Doris found some information on a website about how to make masks, and all last weekend she was at that sewing machine working away and managed to make some really cool masks for family members. I might even wear one now that I don’t have to look like Dr. Kildare or the Frito Bandito.

Dorothy Detweiler would have been proud. And if you see someone in the frozen section aisle with a bird or a big “P” over his mouth it will probably be me.


Just wanted to add a comment about Bob Patterson although Debbie Adams has an extensive story on the Vinton legend, who passed away last week, in the news section of the paper.

He was a really good man and a pleasure to work with during his many years as principal at William Byrd High School. As sports editor, I admired how he understood the importance of sports at the school without letting it get in the way of discipline and education.

The stadium in named for him, and that’s all that really needs to be said about what he meant to this community. We were lucky to have him pass our way.


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