Comic books and drawing … that’s all I cared about as a kid! Attending New Albany elementary through high school in the 60’s and 70’s was pretty cool, although many times as a boy I felt like the proverbial square peg. I didn’t play sports (or have any interest) and by today’s standards, I guess I would’ve been considered a nerd! Drawing was the only thing I gave my undivided attention … which is probably why I had so much trouble with Algebra during the first 6 weeks of study. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was a right brain thinker! Oh, I would eventually do well with courses like Algebra, after my brother tutored me and broke it down so I could grasp what it was all about … but I had to really work at it!
The old high school was something else, and I can still remember having 3 people to a locker, which meant look out below if your lockermates overstacked their books and stuff! The new high school was like something out of the future with modular walls, and award-winning design (at least that’s what I heard!) and plenty of space for everyone! Which made it all the more confusing that we still attended art classes in the old elementary school building! I didn’t really mind though, because that room was like a good friend to me. The two art teachers that stand out in my mind are Mrs Hale and Mrs Ballenger. Both were patient and kind teachers who may not have always understood my passion for drawing crazy flying comic book figures rippling with muscles and such … but they gave me space to grow and experiment. I loved drawing imaginary girls with big eyes and long flowing hair, then later just drawing people in general became a fixation! True, I complained when I was told I had to learn about fine art and Van Gogh and Rembrandt … what the devil did they have to do with me?! And why am I drawing railroad tracks and telephone poles in perspective? I hate perspective! Or so I thought at the time. Still, the things I learned from my teachers and the latitude they allowed me only fueled my desire to draw more and more. I came out of my shell and began to express myself through my art! One of the best things about New Albany was the fact that everyone knew everyone! When my senior year consisted of at least 3 study halls with no option to leave early, Mrs Ballenger allowed me to spend those extra periods in the art room, where I got to know the sisters and brothers of my classmates … and to work on whatever I wanted, a dream come true!
The world was opening up for all of us after graduation in 1974 and although I didn’t want to attend the Columbus College of Art and Design, I wasn’t sure where this square peg would find the right fit! The answer came in 1981 with the start of an intensive 3 year training program at the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, in Dover, New Jersey. Joe was one of the premiere comic artists from the Golden Age of Comics and through him and my other art instructors I learned a lot of discipline and control, whether drawing faces, figures, or backgrounds … in perspective! I really applied myself and was fortunate to be one of their top students … but something was missing and I realized I really didn’t care to draw flying men in tights all the time! Luckily a good part of my training also involved graphic design and advertising. So while I was still in school and putting in 16+ hours of work a day on illustrative studies, I began freelancing (and was yelled at for doing it too!) with two small advertising agencies in the area. That opened my eyes to the world of advertising, TV storyboard work, and freelancing in general!
After graduation in 1984, my wife and I naturally gravitated back to Ohio. Our families and memories were here and after living in Albuquerque, New Mexico then Hackettstown, New Jersey, it was good to be home! The next 25 years were filled with lots of freelance and commission work with ad agencies and design firms, and even a 10 year stint as co-owner of my own graphic design firm, before my partner and I split.
Always remember that everything old is new again, at one time or another! After taking a different road than comic books and building a career from it, I decided to embark on another dream from childhood and began to write and illustrate children’s books. I had no formal training as a writer, but after delving into every children’s book I could lay my hands on, I found that anyone could do it! Online publishing was a growing child, and once I began crafting my artwork and stories, I found my graphic design training prepared me for this next step into self-publishing. The early perspective drawing plus the narrative storytelling I learned and used in television storyboards, gave me the right tools to go to work! For the past 11 years I’ve written and illustrated 3 children’s books for myself, plus other titles for several authors. I’ve come full circle with my work as my books are designed and read as graphic novels rather than ordinary books you typically find on a shelf.
Today I live in Gahanna, Ohio with my wife of 42 years, Sandy, and our black lab, Sophie. Immensely proud of my Sicilian heritage and close to my family overseas, I publish my books in English and Italian versions, which are sold through my website cucciaKidsBooks.com, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and a handful of other online sites. I’m also an accomplished pencil portrait artist (cuccciaCreative.com), with commissions throughout the United States and parts of Europe.
My early years in the New Albany school system, helped prepare me for what lay ahead in the future … I just didn’t know it at the time! That small town atmosphere, the warmth of the people, and having cows and horses as your neighbors, instilled something in me that’s still kicking today! Grazie e tanti auguri a tutti voi! (Thank you and best wishes to you all!)
By: Davide Cuccia
I grew up in Cedar Brook until I was 7. I attended New Albany Elementary. We only moved away because my dad worked for FBI and was transferred back to Georgia where he and mom grew up. I tell stories of our little town parades where the Brownies marched. We played outside until Mrs. Hassey rang the bell that we all had to go in for supper. I always wanted to walk to school through the cornfield behind my house through the Huber’s yard and across the street to school but I ride the bus that Mr. Walton drove. At the end of my street was a creek that ran behind me. Walton’s house. I spent many days catching craw dads in that creek and playing with neighborhood friends until large paw prints appeared and our parents said there was a large cat on the loose. Nights out to eat were seldom but after T-ball games, I was in the red team sponsored by All-State. We went for ice cream and sometimes went to Eagle pizza to eat. I was always in awe when the High School kids came in. I couldn’t wait to be an Eagle cheerleader like Dena, but we moved to Georgia and I became a cheerleader there instead. I wish I could have raised my boys where I grew up Cedar Brook Place. There is no place like it anywhere.
I have never seen the renovations to the tow.
By: Tara Jones
You are cordially invited by the New Albany-Plain Township Historical Society to attend:
NOVEMBER 11, 2018 at 6:30 P.M.
(DOORS OPEN AT SIX.)
Noah’s Event Center
175 E. Main Street New Albany, Ohio
This is a free event!
Please join us as we remember the thirty-one New Albany – Plain Township soldiers that left the peace of home for the battlefields of Europe one hundred years ago. This Veteran’s Day we will honor them with song, silence, historical displays, captivating visual effects, and more. The key-note address by historian Dennis Keesee will share our soldier’s stories with a look at our town in the early 1900’s and pay tribute to the 116,000 plus Americans who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.
In keeping with this time honored tradition two sets of 31 poppies will be placed in New Albany this November each honoring one of our 31 doughboys. Additional poppies may be obtained at Eagle Pizza if you would like to place one in front of your business or home.
Every now and again, I look up Eagles Pizza’s website. I miss the pizza and like to look at the photos. But it is not just the pizza photos I like to see, it is all the photos of New Albany I really like to see! I grew up there but have been in Texas since 1984. I worked at Dairy Cream as did my two sisters. Life was good. I rode the roads of New Albany with my 10 speed bicycle and then my red cutlass supreme. I miss it all! It was beautiful! None of my family lives there anymore. Our home was where Jonell Ct. is now. The builder was nice enough to name a street after my Mom.
By: Mary (Snider) Wineriter
Friday, July 24th: Frozen
An American veteran of World War II and a German Jew whom he helped to rescue in Nazi-occupied Holland shared the stage at Granville Middle School (also in New Albany & Johnstown) yesterday to talk about their experiences and to preach the importance of tolerance. The presentation also gave students a chance to hear stories firsthand— an opportunity that is quickly fading away.
Don Jakeway, a U.S. paratrooper during the war, and Bert Jakobs, whose family had fled to Holland to avoid
persecution in Germany, only to be forced into hiding to avoid being sent to a concentration camp after the occupation, told of the Jakobs family’s ordeal and its liberation by American soldiers from Jakeway’s regiment in 1944.
Jakobs, 78, shared a room about the size of a two-car garage with four other people for more than two years while the German army controlled the country. His family ate the same meals every day: a bowl of oatmeal in the morning and potatoes and onions for lunch and dinner. They had to clean themselves with a washcloth from a basin, never brushing their teeth or changing their clothes during their confinement. But the emotional damage from missing much of his childhood was worse than the hardships in their hideout, he said. “I got married in 1956, but it wasn’t until the mid-1980s that I told my three children or wife about hiding,” Jakobs told the students. “I didn’t want to talk about it. It was like a prison sentence.”
Now living in Palm Desert, Calif., Jakobs said he would rather live in the present than the past, but as he got older, he realized the importance of sharing his story. That’s why he agreed to come to central Ohio after he was contacted a few weeks ago by Mark Easton, a New Albany resident who had met Jakeway through volunteer work with veterans.
Originally, Easton had wanted to bring together the two — who had never met — to celebrate Jakeway’s 89th birthday in January, but Jakobs said the two should use the opportunity to talk to schoolchildren about the importance of treating people as equals. “We need to create a world where people are tolerant and accept people for who they are,” Jakobs said. “To me, that’s more important than living for 25 months hiding in a room.” The two spoke in several area
schools, wrapping up with Granville yesterday before Jakobs flew home in the afternoon.
Jakeway, a Johnstown resident, knew of Jakobs because he had corresponded with Jakobs’ sister, Edith Jakobs, who was living in Israel. Jakeway was working on a book about his experiences as a paratrooper in the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division during the war. The two wrote regularly from 1986 until she died last year, he said.
Meeting her brother at Port Columbus on Wednesday was an emotional moment, Jakeway said. Listening to Jakobs speak to school groups taught him a side of the war that he had not experienced as a soldier. “I never got a chance to meet this family,” Jakeway told students yesterday. “I never remembered the homes, the houses, because we were looking for people behind them, or in the trees or bushes. There was a lot of fighting going on.” He echoed Jakobs’ call for students to be tolerant of those unlike themselves, reminding them that the Jakobs family had never harmed the Nazis who persecuted them.
Eighth-grader Dayton Steffeny, 14, said he was amazed by Jakobs’ recovery from his ordeal, and he said he is grateful that the world has changed since the Holocaust. “I think people can be cruel at times, but I think the world has gotten a lot
better,” he said.
This was the word as of 3 month ago!
Residents traveling between Johnstown and New Albany will have to find an alternate route to Johnstown Road (U.S. Route 62) this summer because of a bridge replacement and road resurfacing.
The Ohio Department of Transportation is closing Johnstown Road for 45 days beginning July 8 to replace a bridge between Tippet Road and Walnut Street, and it will begin paving 10 miles of Johnstown Road from the Franklin County line to the Licking County line on the same day.
Friday August 15th: Back to the Future
Get in back-to-school mode by going back in time with Marty McFly. This 80’s classic will entertain the entire family.
Festivities will begin at 7:30 with music and free popcorn. Other concessions items will be for sale in the pavilion.
New Albany Parks and Recreation and Eagles Pizza are proud to announce the dates for the 2nd annual Summer Movie Series. Grab your blankets, lawn chairs and picnic baskets, then sit back and enjoy the show. The screen will go up at dusk so come early to get your spot on the lawn. Alcohol, pets and glass containers are strictly prohibited. Admission is free, though there will be concessions items for sale in the pavilion.
I’m surprised Dirk Stevens hasn’t already posted this picture he shot, but it is so great a story I wanted to share. Dennis Keesee has brought back movie night in New Albany with the first one this coming Friday night at the Wexner Park pavilion. This beautiful signage was done by Sean Alley owner of ProSign on the side of Eagles Pizza, at the exact location where movies were actualy shown, I believe in the early 20th century and not sure how long, maybe into the 1930’s, at least according to the stories my Dad, Clark Cubbage, told. I’m guessing the powers to be would no longer let Rt. 62 be closed down to show movies! But big kudos to these New Albany grads, Dennis, Dirk and Sean, for keeping “old” New Albany alive! I love the sentiment and I love this beautiful signage. The photo in the sign looks to be High Street in New Albany, maybe taken in the late ‘teens or 1920’s? You can see the old Masonic Temple on the left, a building that still stands. Guess it will be up most of the summer, if you have a chance to drive by and see it. Even better, you can all patronize these three NAHS grads-they are all independent business owners in the community!
Friday June 13th: The Incredibles Follow Mr. Incredible and his superhero family through this crime-fighting classic. Kids are encouraged to dress up as their favorite superhero to get in the spirit. The best dressed superheroes will receive a special prize. Festivities will begin at 7:30 with music and free popcorn. Other concessions items will be for sale in the pavilion.
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a teacher’s patience and guidance can be more valuable than gold!
The fundamentals of our childhood education at New Albany were the same as any other school of the time. Reading, writing, arithmetic … they’re a universal constant every child must learn. Playing sports afforded quite a few kids the opportunity to train their bodies as rigorously as they were training their minds however, the kids that weren’t that good at sports or simply weren’t interested in sports, had to find other disciplines to pursue.
I knew from the age of 6 that I wanted to become an artist. That’s all there was to it. There was never a doubt in my mind, but I had no idea how to go about attaining that goal. Wonderful art teachers like Marianne Ballenger and Jan Hale helped me find the beginnings of that path, although I fought them every step of the way.
I didn’t want to learn to draw train tracks and telephone poles vanishing in perspective! I didn’t care about some guy called Picasso that painted weird subjects and had a thing about blue! I didn’t want to draw from life! … I just wanted to draw superheroes! Bringing my mind and magic pencils to bear, Captain America and Batman were going to save the day and I was going to be the guy who drew them! That’s all that mattered … or so I thought at the time.
Thankfully the patience and insight of Mrs. Ballenger and Mrs. Hale outlasted my stubborn streak.Slowly but surely I began to appreciate what they were trying to tell me and found I could apply that knowledge to the things I thought were most important … even in my world of capes, tights and super powers. Funny how that happens, isn’t it? You’ve made up your mind and formulated your opinion and don’t want to hear any facts that might dissuade you from your quest!
Then you realize they’re right and you haven’t paid enough attention … and that’s when the real learning process blossoms! The only place you can go from there is up, up and away!
These two talented art teachers may not have always understood my world or my artwork, but like my parents they were incredibly supportive and challenged me to surpass my previous efforts whenever possible! With this new confidence, I began to see the world in a whole new way … vivid colors, shades of gray, and shapes and textures found in Nature that I hadn’t seen before. I began to look for patterns and harmony in the most basic elements of architecture and landscape … the more I found the more I wanted!
To me, this is what great teaching is all about! Not changing young minds and talent, but challenging kids to find their greatest potential and to embrace it. To let it mold and shape them into something more dynamic than they could ever dream possible! I owe a world of gratitude to teachers like Marianne Ballenger and Jan Hale for my wake up call to the world of Art!
Dedicated teachers of this caliber started me on a journey I’ve enjoyed for over 30 years, and there’s really no end in sight! Because of their confidence in my work, I’m now illustrating children’s books … a dream I’ve had all my life! Check it out: cucciakidsbooks.com. Who knows what’s next? In the meantime, I think I’ll let my pencils guide the way!