Of Tuffy, Truman, faster FOIDs & band practice

My frame of reference for Tuffy Bowen of Farmington has always been too narrow. To me, Bowen is the guy who caught two bass weighing 18 pounds, 2 ounces off their spawn beds in one hour on June 19, 1970 – a pair of fish that still rank as the best duo this area has ever seen.

To folks who appreciate big bass, that’s a pretty cool way to be known.
But there’s so much more to tell about Harold “Tuffy” Bowen, and many of those stories were flowing freely Saturday at the Farmington Moose, where a crowd gathered to celebrate Bowen’s 100th birthday.

Though he now lives in Liberty Village in Peoria, Bowen is Farmington through and through. While not a native, he spent 30 years at the school coaching basketball, football and track and serving as athletic director. He’s in just about every possible hall of fame around, including that of his alma mater, Western Illinois University, where he was a standout hurdler and long jumper.

True to his nickname, while at WIU, Tuffy and two friends once asked for money to attend a track meet in Chicago. When the school said no, they raised the money themselves, traveled to the meet and won it.

“When they brought the trophy home to the athletic director, he said, ‘OK, how much do I owe you?’” said Dave Giagnoni, who attended Bowen’s birthday bash and followed him as a Farmington track coach.

By any measure, Tuffy has enjoyed a life well lived. Kudos!

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Every few weeks, well-travelled window washer Truman Schuck pays us a visit – coincidentally close to Christmas tip time – and shares tales of his rambles through the south end of Peoria and elsewhere. His latest visit yielded a philosophical gem. “Aww heck, man, you gotta live with some people not liking you.” Amen to that. … The Illinois State Police (ISP) have finally whittled down the backlog for FOID cards. ISP says it is now turning applications around in 38 days, much better than the months many folks had been waiting even last year. It’s about time the state hired more people to make that system work better. … Sad fact: Since 2005, an estimated 2,200 newspapers have closed. Most of them were shuttered due to greedy, publicly traded companies sucking the relevance out of papers that could still make money today if they had the staff and budgets to put out a good product. Sigh.

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Word from Jody McKinty is that The Elmwood Place “casino’’ in the former True Value hardware store is scheduled to open Jan. 3. McKinty said interior decorating at the bar is being done with women in mind in an effort to attract more of the gentler sex. … You’ve still got two weeks left to submit your big buck pictures and get entered for a shot at winning $50. Just email or text pictures to me. … Know how bad the COVID lockdown was? I even missed going to my kid’s Christmas concert. Ahh, but I got over that quickly Tuesday night during band warmups. Just kidding. There’s something that always makes me smiles about the kid concerts. … Parting shot: You know it’s a bad week when you make more money picking up loose change than on the stock market.

Contact Jeff Lampe at (309) 231-6040 or jeff@wklypost.com