Student Contributors

This I Believe – A stranger’s smile


By Tia Woodel

There is something about a simple smile that instantly makes a rough day better.

I can’t remember one instance in which a stranger smiled at me and I didn’t return the gesture. A smile from someone I know is always helpful, but a smile from a stranger, someone I don’t always expect it from – that is powerful.

This is a photo of myself. Photo by Tia Woodel

Everybody deals with their own struggles. Whether it’s a death in the family, a divorce, money issues, or anything else, it’s easy to get caught up in the negatives of life.

A smile has always helped me break through some of my own struggles.

My great-grandmother died last year.  On top of the stress of being a college student, now I had to deal with the fact that I no longer had any living great-grandparents. After her funeral, I cried the entire one hour drive back to my apartment.

I pulled into the parking lot and dried the tears from my face. A girl my age was walking by. She looked at me and smiled. I smiled back. The gesture was so simple, yet so meaningful.

According to research on what’s behind the smile, “many smiles are simply readouts of positive internal states such as happiness.” Seeing the girl display such a positive expression was enough to make me take a step back and realize I would make it through this, just as I have in every other tough situation.

She didn’t have to say anything to me. She didn’t need to walk over and hug me, or assure me that everything was going to be okay. She simply turned the corners of the mouth up, exposing her front teeth. She simply smiled.

Photo by Tia Woodel

This has happened many times in my life. It always starts with me being distressed, but after a smile from a stranger, my worries seem to be so much less significant.

I believe in a simple smile from a stranger. A smile can make a difference. A smile can change a life.



Harboring History, Creating Legends: The Legacy of Howard’s Club H

Phillip Keck, trumpet player for Texas Pete and the Revolution, sounds his horn into the microphone during the band’s sound check. The reverberation of the trumpet blast, along with the remnants of smoke from the fog machines and the crowded room, make the stage feel like a pre-modern warfare battlefield.

However, Howard’s Club H ( is more than just a band’s battleground in the war of popularity — it is also a band’s great ally.

Because of the economic downturn and diminished demand for live music, owner Jim Gavarone has seen a fall in attendance, despite being one of the only remaining clubs in downtown Bowling Green that offer live performances. Gavarone scoffs at his competitors and what they find to be amusement.

Howard's Club H offers its visitors live music, pool tables and alcoholic beverages. Photo by Stephan Reed.

“I’ve seen what kids spend their money on these days and it’s not real entertainment,” Gavarone said. “They could pay $3 to see a band here. Instead, they’ll go next door [to Skybar] and pay $10 … to listen to the same eight songs.”

There are not many places for bands to perform downtown anymore. Howard’s is the only place that has kept its stage open to traveling and local bands said disk jockey Brian Scavo.

“We have been here for over 80 years,” Gavarone said. “Ten years ago, half of these bars weren’t here. Cla-Zel, Skybar, none of them were here. Now, they are our main competition.”

On the outside, Howard’s Club H looks like a basic downtown bar, but on the inside, with its graffiti-covered tables, mural-covered walls and legendary stage, is where the club harbors its history and sets itself apart from the others.

Howard’s has been in business for more than 80 years. The establishment has seen wars, the Prohibition and thousands of students come and go each year at Bowling Green State University. Gavarone and general manager Jennifer Snyder look to preserve the culture behind Howard’s while annually bringing in a whole new crowd of students.

“No matter what you do with your life, you can come back here,” Snyder said. “You can walk through our door and it will always be Howard’s. We have people who come back as alumni and they look around for their names on the wall. They are looking for a little bit of their history. They know that they are a part of this place.”

The operators of Howard's allow patrons to write on the walls of the bathroom and to carve their names into the tables. Photo by Stephan Reed.

Gavarone and Snyder allow patrons to write on the walls of the bathroom and carve words into the tables as they have for years. The bathroom looks like a vandalized train, almost completely covered in bright, nearly illegible writing.

Performers like Keck cite the writing on the walls as one of Howard’s most distinctive characteristics.

“We always joke about the graffiti,” Keck said. “There are some questionable messages in there. We also look around for our old stickers on the walls. We feel like we really are a part of the culture there.”

"I just don't have the heart to cover up these walls," Gavarone said. "These murals are what makes this place." Photo by Stephan Reed.

The club looks rough around the edges, with its graffiti and low lighting, but it holds some lifelong memories for many people, including the owner.

“I get a lot of pressure from people who want me to clean this place up,” Gavarone said. “I am a sentimental guy. I do not have the heart to shut this place down. In fact, I kissed my wife for the first time against the pole near the stage.”

That stage is where Howard’s differs from all the other clubs downtown. Bands like Panic! At the Disco and The White Stripes played there when they were first starting out, while Method Man, Andrew W.K. and David Allen Coe performed to maximum capacity crowds.

“I had Fall Out Boy play here in 2003, and people were bitching at the door about paying $3,” Gavarone said. “A few years later, they were selling out stadiums nationwide. Bands are nobodies here and then they become somebodies out there.”

Scavo agreed, adding that Howard’s is where many artists come to get noticed and bask in the light of the stage.

"I kissed my wife for the first time against the pole near the stage," Gavarone said. Photo by Stephan Reed

“Howard’s has its own character and its own stories,” Scavo said. “Bands coming through Bowling Green always go there. It has such a great reputation. It’s one of the only places left in Bowling Green that gives our downtown diversity.”

The club also played part of the famous blues tour known as the “Chitlin’ Circuit” (’_circuit) during the late 1950s, providing a place for blues artists to perform. The tour consisted of blues guitarists such as B.B. King, Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker.

“This place had legends play here every weekend back in the day,” Gavarone said. “Howard’s would get the big name blues guys who were on their way from Chicago to Cleveland.”

Deeper in Howard’s history is the tale of confectioner and founder Freddy Howard, a candystore operator turned bar owner.

“Legend has it that this candy store sold liquor out the back,” Gavarone said. “He was famous for his parties because he would have the entire football squad out here. The coaches began calling him Freddy the Falcon. The day Prohibition was overturned, he was one of the first ones selling [legally].”

Currently, the bar caters to anyone who walks through the door by providing food in-house and next door at Mr. Spots. Gavarone is also the owner of Mr. Spots (, which is how he received his liquor license.

The club is separated into two parts connected by a wrap-around bar. One side is more laid back, complete with a few TV screens playing sports games and the majority of the beer taps, while the other side is focused on recreation with four pool tables, a soundboard and a stage.

Snyder said she thinks of Howard’s as the town hangout, as well as the final stop during a weekend bar crawl.

Howard's operators hang pictures of past memorable live performances behind the bar. Photo by Stephan Reed.

“We have always been the closing bar,” she said. “We are open seven days a week and everyone seems to come here for their final round of the night. It’s been like that for decades.”

Whether it’s a night of just hanging out and shooting pool with the regulars or it’s a night of rocking out with the next band preparing for its big break, Howard’s and its operators look to keep the stage open and to continue to aid bands in the fight for stardom.

View Route from BGSU Campus to Howard’s Club H in a larger map

Saving the Second Amendment

By Stephan Reed

Since the age of 10, Hofacker worked with guns. His grandfather was a gunsmith and he eventually picked up the trade of repairing firearms. He later joined the Fostoria police force in 1988 until he retired in 2005.

Hofacker and his business partner, Steve Doe, have owned and operated their gun store in Fostoria since August of 2010 and look to expand their business, using their own space and the Internet ( Besides selling guns, they teach concealed weapon classes, book international hunts, create their own ammunition by hand and operate a target range. Neither man takes gun control advocates seriously.

Hofacker and Doe offer a list of services to their patrons. Photo taken from the company's business card.

“We bump into people periodically that are so tremendously anti-gun and anti-hunting that they make negative comments to us,” Hofacker said. “The people who do that sort of thing are uninformed and uneducated. A lot of the people will see things our way after talking to them for a bit. Animal rights activists and gun control lobbyists, or freaks if you will, they don’t look at the big picture.”

In 1989, while working as a police officer, Hofacker responded to a domestic violence call. When he arrived, him and his partner found a man, under the influence of PCP and alcohol, striking his brother in the body with a hatchet. The suspect proceeded to chase the two officers while wielding the hatchet. In an effort to save his life, Hofacker discharged three bullets into the chest of the suspect. At the end of the day, all the men involved were alive and the suspect was in custody.

“We run into people who say, ‘I don’t think you should own a gun,’ and they have never been victimized,” Hofacker said. “They are so far removed from the fact that we have guns in the first place is for hunting and self-protection, self-protection more commonly nowadays.”

The gun store is home to a variety of prize animals Hofacker and Doe killed during hunts in the United States, Canada and South Africa. Photo by Stephan Reed.

In early 2010, while enjoying a beer with his best friend after a hunt in Nevada, Hofacker presented the idea of the gun store in Fostoria. Immediately, Doe complied and was willing to follow through with the plan. Hofacker’s wife, Michelle, was on board as well, motivating him by saying “If you don’t do this now, then you never will.”

Hofacker and his partner continue to run the gun shop, despite gun control controversy.

The Brady Campaign, a nationwide gun control organization, works to apply stricter gun laws to the country in an effort to cut back on gun violence. According to statistics from, more than 97,000 U.S. citizens were injured by gun-related violence last year, and among those involved, 31,593 were killed.

The Brady Campaign ranks Ohio as one of the least restricted gun control states in the nation because Ohio does not have a ban on assault weapons and does not have a “One-gun-a-month” law.

The Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence (, another group dedicated to gun law reform, focuses on the people who buy guns legally but resell them illegally. To fix the problem, group leaders are looking to pass legislation that would make background checks more extensive and gun show transactions better documented.

“Forty percent of guns bought are secondary guns. You can buy them from the dealer and sell it to me the next day,” Toby Hoover, Executive Director of the group, said.  “It’s a popular thing because you’re selling to people who can’t pass the background check. That’s against the law, but it still happens. It’s common all over.”

Doe and Hofacker keep up with the gun control debate and have already faced restrictions. For every transaction and every concealed weapon permit, the two owners report to the FBI and perform a background check on behalf of the receiving individual.

Hofacker tweeks the action on an M4 pistol in his office February 3. Photo by Stephan Reed.

“There needs to be regulations on who can own guns,” Hofacker said. “We want to stay away from ‘sensible gun laws.’ That’s the term politicians like to say. We have thousands of laws on guns. We only need a few. Nobody could know everything inside the law book. The only reason they make it so difficult is to convolute and brainwash us.”

"Gun laws are only as good as the people who follow them," Doe said. "Like any other law, like murder, people break them everyday. People rob stores with guns, but is it the gun's fault? I could set this gun out on the table and it won't do it for 100 years if no one touches it." Photo by Stephan Reed.


Inside S and S Firearms, Hofacker and Doe converse around an office desk, which contains a bag of hand-packed bullets, a weathered book of gun laws and a poorly hidden flask of whiskey. Hofacker begins working on an M4 pistol and gives Doe a history lesson on each part of the gun and Doe shares his common defense for their business.

“A gun is nothing more than a tool, like a car,” Doe said. “If a person does something dastardly with a gun, then punish him. There are all kinds of rules in the book for that. If you took your car and ran over five people with it, that doesn’t mean they should take cars away from everyone.”

Hofacker and Doe are lifelong members of the National Rifle Association and are co-chairmen of their local chapter. They cite the NRA as the primary reasoning behind their business, their rationale for selling firearms to the public.

According to, a website dedicated to the review of new gun legislation, “Private citizens benefit from handguns for the same reason that the police do: handguns are easy to carry, and they are effective defensive tools. Handguns are used for protection more often than they are used to commit violent crimes, and two of every three defensive uses of firearms are carried out with handguns.”

Law requires Hofacker and Doe to call in background checks to the government before sales are final. They also perform checks on patrons trying to purchase ammunition and those attempting to obtain concealed carried permits.

In 1994, while Hofacker was working as a police officer, he was doing paperwork on a man who had been arrested on domestic violence charges, violating parole, resisting arresting and possession of a loaded .25 auto pistol. In 2011, the same man was in Hofacker’s gun class. The man was later rejected for his permit for having a felony on his record, just as Hofacker predicted.

Hofacker and his wife agree that their children should be introduced to firearms early.

“My kids started shooting at 4 years old,” Michelle Hofacker said. “A lot of people say that’s too young, but I say you’re never too young to be educated.”

There may be those who question the Second Amendment right to bear arms, but as long as laws permit, Hofacker will wear his gun rights on his sleeves — and even on the back of his truck.

Hofacker keeps a decal of the Second Amendment on the back window of his truck. Photo by Stephan Reed.

He has a decal with the words of the Second Amendment printed on the back window of his truck in the form of the American flag.

“Some people may think I’m a crackpot or a radical,” Hofacker said. “The Second Amendment is the one that allows for the first one to work properly.”

From left, Doe and Hofacker pose with their prize mountain lion during a hunting expedition in South Africa during the summer of 2011. Photo provided.

Tyler Buchanan

My name is Tyler Buchanan, and I’m a Junior Journalism major and political science minor at BGSU. I am from Bellevue, Ohio.


I write for the BGNews, in my first year as a reporter and third as a columnist.


I also write for the Examiner, a hyper local online news website.  I cover the Elections 2012 and Gambling beats for the Cleveland Examiner.

Ryan Satkowiak

My name is Ryan Satkowiak, and I am a junior print journalism major from Fresno, Calif. (it’s a long story). I have been writing for The BG News since September of my freshman year, almost exclusively as a sportswriter. I currently serve as the BG News’ sports editor.

I basically figured out my freshman year of high school that I wanted to write about sports because I love sports, and I didn’t want to get stuck doing a boring 8-5 Monday-Friday job. (I’ve had one “real” job in my life. A file clerk at a law office, and it sucked). Working with the paper has helped me meet great people and develop good connections. The opportunities I’ve had from working with the BG News have also been awesome. Below is a picture of me and former NHL all-star and BG alumni Rob Blake, who I got to meet when he came back to campus last year.


Sarah Bailey

My name is Sarah Bailey, and I am a junior and journalism major at BGSU, minoring in marketing. I am orginially from Loveland, Ohio. This past summer, I interned at the Cincinnati Enquirer where I was given the opportunity to write stories for the local news section and for Our Town Magazine. I have also written for The BG News and the Key Magazine during my time here at the university. Writing is my passion and I couldn’t imagine my life without it. I enjoy writing about fashion, entertainment, health, and mostly positive stories that showcase people in the community. I hope to one day write, market or do publishing for a major magazine.

In addition to journalism related activites, I am a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority. During my membership I have served as vice president of communications, historian, chair of the leadership and nominating committee and I am currently the chair of the policy and standards board.


Scooter Shenefield

I am finishing my undergrad at BGSU. I am studying sport management and journalism. After graduation I would like to get into a sports information office. I have some experience with this through BG’s athletic communication office.

This semester I am also working as reporter for the <a href="" The BGNEWS. I hope to learn as much as I can, and improve my writing tenfold.

Kelsey Klein

Hello, World. I am a junior Women’s Studies major at BGSU, with minors in Journalism and Sociology. I currently work as a writing tutor at the BGSU Learning Commons. I am also treasurer of the BGSU Organization for Women’s Issues, event coordinator for the BGSU chapter of Triota (a national women’s studies honorary), and a volunteer with Victims Services of Behavioral Connections.

As you can see from the things I do, women’s studies and women’s issues are my true passions. I love the written word as it applies to social activism and the lives of people. Thus, feature writing is my favorite journalistic style, though I am much more of an academic, research-orienented writer than a journalist. Nothing makes me happier than churning out a 20 page paper on something like the politics of bisexual female representation and community at BGSU (which was an actual project of mine last semester).

Professionally, it is my goal to earn a Ph.D in Sexology or Social Work (or both!) and work with community-based sex education programs and research, and with interpersonal violence victims.

In my spare time, which is difficult to find, I am a rabid BGSU hockey and Pittsburgh Penguins fan, an Alice in Wonderland aficionado, and a lover of warm, fuzzy things like bunny slippers.

(Photo credit to Breanna Ridgeway/Bree Lea Photography)

Stephan Reed

I have worked in the print journalism world for almost four years and I have done everything from newspaper layout, to reporting, to column writing, to copy editing, to photography.

I am currently the Forum Editor at The BG News located on campus at Bowling Green State University.

My goal is to become a reporter for Rolling Stone. I am a musician and I am a writer; what better way to live my life than writing stories about the colorful personalities in the music industry?

Tia Woodel

My name is Tia Woodel and I’m a senior working for a Print Journalism major and Women’s Studies minor at BGSU. I’ve worked at The BG News as a copy editor during the summer of 2011 and worked as an intern in the fall. As an intern, I not only continued to copy edit, but I worked on improving my reporting skills as I wrote weekly stories. I also designed one to two pages for each Monday paper, including photo spreads and campus pages.

Before working with The BG News, I interned with the Beacon newspaper out of Ottawa County. Working there helped me acquire basic journalism skills that I still use today.

When I’m not working on journalism projects, I’m attending meetings as the membership coordinator for the new on-campus organization, Triota. Triota is a Women’s Studies Honors Society that works to promote and support excellence and scholarship in Women’s Studies.

While I’ve only had the opportunity to have internships with newspapers, I hope to one day work for a magazine.

Bri Haller

I’m a junior Print Journalism major with a minor in Political Science at Bowling Green State University. I’ve been working with the BG News since 2010 and have skills in writing, copy editing and design. I hope to launch a career at a newspaper in a major city such as Washington D.C.

Jason Jones

My name is Jason Jones. I’m from an upstate New York town called Lowville. After high school I knew I wanted to get away and start somewhere new, so, I ended up in Bowling Green. Now I’m just two semesters away from graduating, and it’s a pretty exciting feeling.

I’m a Public Relations major. Right now I’m not sure where my ideal career path would take me. I wish I did, but I simply don’t. I think it would incredibly exciting to work for a big firm somewhere in a nice city like New York, but then I’d also find doing public relations for a professional sports team exciting.

As far as writing is concerned, I’ve always had an interest in Sports. During my first two years hear at BGSU, I worked as a sports reporter for The BG News, covering golf, rugby, soccer, football, and basketball. I fell out of the love with the whole thing however after a miserable semester spent working as the Assistant Sports Editor. Through a combination of reasons, I came to realize that it wasn’t right for me, and I left.

Now I’m enjoying my time here at BGSU. Going to class, writing, becoming involved with PRSSA, and playing on the Lacrosse team. It’s all good fun.

I’m excited to get things started with this blog.


Erin Cox

I am currently a junior at BGSU with a major in journalism and a minor in popular culture. I am originally from Van Wert, Ohio, attended Miami University starting in 2009 and transfered

to BGSU in the fall of 2011.

I worked at the Miami Student for a semester while I was at Miami and then interned at The Times Bulletin in Van Wert during the summer of 2011. While working for The Times Bulletin, I had experience doing an online broadcast as the sports reporter. I learned to shoot, edit and upload video to the website. I also wrote hard news and feature stories for the newspaper. After my experience with my small town newspaper, I hope to one day work for a similar newspaper because I like using all types of media and having a wide variety of topics to cover rather than just one beat.

I now write for The BG News where I have a Pulse beat to cover concerts and the music scene in Bowling Green. I also do a weekly movie review. I hope to keep involved in entertainment journalism as I further my career as well.



Sara Shipley Hiles

Sara Shipley Hiles is a journalism faculty member at BGSU. Photo by Jeanie Adams-Smith.

I’m a longtime journalist and a second-year instructor in the Journalism & PR Department at BGSU. During my career, I’ve written for newspapers and magazines, co-authored a book, worked in public relations and dabbled in editing and multimedia. At BGSU, I have taught media law, writing, reporting, environmental journalism and other topics.

I look forward to exploring the world of feature writing with my students. I can’t wait to see their work!

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