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             Tuesday, March 18 2003  

Where are they now? Dennis Ford

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.

Dennis Ford

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. 

In 1972, 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 sites.

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.

Dennis 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 that car."

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.

"I 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 at ZipyZ28@webtv.net.


If you have a suggestion for a subject for Where Are They Now, please write Judy Rose.

Click here for an index of all Where Are They Now profiles in this series.

Gardening rule

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.

—Sent by Mary Ann Losiewcz

Lenten thought for the day

Only in the depths of repentance and brokenness does one encounter the true magnitude of God's mercy and compassion. And the more ways one can find to deny his earthly self, the more room he makes in his heart for the divine Christ.

—Matthew Gallatin,
Thirsting for God
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