By Jim Bucher

First, I hope you know me by now. I was on TV here for almost 25 years and am celebrating three years writing for Dayton City Paper, and I try to keep my stories positive, for the most part, with maybe a rant or five.

With that said, I would never speak ill of the living or dead, or at least try not to, but upon my friend Dayton Daily News columnist Dale Huffman’s passing in 2015, my publisher and friend Paul Noah asked me to write a column on my pal.

As we chatted, Paul pointed out I was pretty good friends with the longtime writer, who was friends to thousands and ambassador to the region.

As I shared some stories, Paul said, “Buch, you should write about the man behind the byline.”

Well, I thought about it for a while; it’s taken me over a year, but with the utmost respect to Dale and his family, here’s some behind-the-scenes stories of everybody’s friend, Uncle Dale. And trust me, I was a willing participant.

I first met Dale back in my public access days when I was a producer/director.

My boss, Executive Director Roxie Cole of Access-Dayton, now DATV on Time Warner Cable, was trying to bring awareness to this wonderful media outlet, which offered everyday folks an opportunity to produce their own TV programs on just about any subject, hence the name “public access.”

Dale began his career as a TV reporter in Cincinnati and wanted to get back in the mix.

So, Roxie thought this reporter would lend credibility to the fledgling cable channel, especially with Dale’s distinguished resume.

I ended up producing many of his programs, and we struck up a friendship on- and off-camera.

Plus, we were neighbors on Riverview Terrace in Dayton. He called home the old Horizon House apartments, me renting half a double with some buddies, just a short walking distance away. He called my crib The Animal House.

Now, this part of my life I’m not too proud of because I enjoyed my beer and Dale his Canadian Club, as I recall.

We’d have late nights discussing the problems of the day, an occasional debate with lots of laughs until Huffy, as we called him, decided it was time for bed.

He’d meander down the block to his first floor apartment, once doing a header in the neighbor’s bushes. We laughed like fools, especially with bush remnants in his curly perm.

Many times, we’d meet at the old Moraine Embassy next to the Dayton Daily News headquarters on Ludlow. The Moraine was the newspaper bar where employees would unwind after work.

One night, I had a little pot, yes pot, the statute of limitations is up by now, right?

It was way past the bewitching hour. Dale needed something from his office and asked if I wanted to tag along.

There were scant few in the building that late, but never in the governor’s office. This was the founder of the DDN and the Cox media empire, James M. Cox.

He passed in 1957 and the subsequent hierarchy left his office exactly the way it was when he died. I mean his pipe was still in the ashtray.

Next thing I know, Dales says, “fire it up.” So, here we were in this ornate, prestigious, stately room with dark wood paneling and office furnishings of days gone by smoking a joint.

Very surreal, and what would the governor think?

Then, the time Dale had a little too much to drink (as did I)… He hopped in his car, taking off the wrong way down Ludlow. When I caught up to him, he explained he didn’t feel like taking the long way home, this way was easier.

But the all-time classic was the night the nation was mesmerized by the mini-series Roots. This was the final part with viewers on the edge of their seats when, suddenly, the power went off for blocks.

Dale crashed his car into a power pole and neighbors weren’t happy. Actually, folks heard the commotion and wanted to kill someone. A Dayton police officer whisked Dale out of harm’s way.

Huffy enjoyed the limelight, hosting events, emceeing big shindigs, and writing columns about everyday folk.

But he was a lonely guy when not “on,” and I could relate.

Well, hope I didn’t dispel the myth. He was just like all of us – triumphs, tragedies, with tons of fun thrown in, living life to the max.

Memories of my friend Dale.

Hope we didn’t leave that roach in the governor’s ashtray…

Cheers, and hail Dale!

Buch

 

For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com

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For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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