are they now? Dennis
The mid-west is now the home of this week's featured person, Nanty Glo native
Dennis Ford. One of four children born to Alvin and Bertha (Michaels) Ford, both
Dennis' parents, along with a sister and brother, are deceased. Dennis' father
passed away in 1979 from the effects of lung disease caused by exposure to coal
dust and his mother died in 2001. His sister Geraldine Shultz passed away in 2002
and his brother Phillip died in infancy. Dennis' sister Connie Griffiths lives
in Northern Cambria and his brother Ron lives in McHenry, Illinois.
A 1970 graduate of Blacklick Valley High School,
Dennis left the area three weeks after graduation."My dad spent 28 years underground
as a miner and was sick with Silicosis. I didn't want to work underground," he
says. With his brother living in Illinois, Dennis headed west to join him. "I
Had been to Illinois to visit my brother a few times and liked the area and decided
to settle there," he says.
while living in Illinois, Dennis enlisted in the U.S. Army and served a two-year
tour of duty that included a 15-month post in Korea where he maintained radar
Married to Texas native but longtime
Illinois resident the former Norma Martinez since March 30, 1985, Dennis and Norma
share a blended family of five grown children. Shirley and Dennis live in our
local area; Shirley in Johnstown, and Dennis in Nanty Glo. Danny makes his home
in Libertyville, Illinois, and Joe and Tommy reside in McHenry.
had spent 27 years working as a machinist for Jewel Tea Home Shopping Service
when a corporate takeover forced him to seek new employment. "I was given the
option to relocate, but I didn't want to do that," he says. For the past four
years, he has been employed by Contempo Design. "We design and construct display
booths for corporations like Nike, Kraft Foods, and others. The booths are used
at trade shows. My job is to inspect for damage after the booth has been used
and to make any necessary repairs," he says. "The companies tell us what they
need and we build them according to their specifications; some are 100 by 100
feet, some are 100 by 50 feet; it depends on what the company needs." To see examples
of Contempo Design's workmanship, go to http://www.ContempoDesign.com.
"My hobby is cars, vintage cars," he
says. "I have a 1978 bright blue metallic Camaro Z28 that I bought in 1983 and
a 1985 Pontiac Trans-Am that has 23,000 original miles and a rare russet metallic
original paint job." Dennis says the two cars are shown in local car shows and
have won a combined total of 80 trophies. "The Camaro Z28 was featured in Muscle
Car magazine in 1988," he says."In 1994, I paid $5000 for the paint job on
Although he now considers the
mid-west "home," Nanty Glo will always be a special place. "As a kid
living on Lloyd Street, I remember sledriding on the hill behind our house and
playing baseball in the neighborhood," he recalls.. "When I got older, K&B was
the place to go for pizza, Rinehart's Drug Store for a vanilla fizz, and Slim
Emery's for milkshakes. Slim's had the best milkshake; I haven't been able to
find one like it."
Dennis says on his
latest visit to Nanty Glo in 2002 he went to White Mill to check out the old swimming
spot. "It's all different now," he says. "It doesn't look anything like it did
back then." Dennis says he had great times skating at Cicero's and riding the
skating bus on saturday nights. "And who can forget those record hops?" he asks.
"They had great songs back then...and my favorite was 'Incense and Peppermint'
by the Strawberry Alarmclock." Dennis and his wife Norma, along with the family
pet, "PoCo," live in McHenry, Illinois.
wish some big company would move into the area and help Nanty Glo to prosper.
I remember it as my home town." Anyone wishing to drop in on Dennis can find him
you have a suggestion for a subject for Where Are They Now, please write Judy
for an index of all Where Are They Now profiles in this series.