Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Bub Basham, It's a Wonderful Life Living in the Same Neighborhood for 90 Years

Lois and Bub in the sports memorabilia room. 
Floyd “Bub” Basham told me that “We love the city. We love everything about it. We’ve had a great life. I couldn’t want a better place to live. Right here. “  And right here turns out to be only three buildings from where he was born.

And if I didn’t know any better I might be tempted to say that Jimmy Stewart portrayed Bub’s devotion to his town and family in the film “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Bub married his school sweetheart, Lois, raised their family, worked, played, and continues to give to his community.

 Bub is 90 years old and has lived within 150 feet of where he was born. That’s right. He lives on Miller Lane in a home that he and his friends built in the late 1950s. And that is only a few doors from the corner of North Fort Thomas Avenue and Miller Lane where a grocery store, Stegner’s,  stood at one time. Bub’s parents lived upstairs and that’s where he was born. The Board of Education building sits on the site now.

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The family moved to the house next door. And then Bub moved next door to that. “This street is my world. I have been here 90 years! One hundred and fifty feet,” he exclaims. “Can you imagine living this close to where you were born?” he asks This isn’t a rhetorical question for Bub, it’s a badge of honor.

Bub has seen the city build, grow, and change, but he has never, ever lost his passion for the city. He may have been let down at times, but he remains optimistic for the future of the town that gave him everything. After a stint in the Navy in WWII, Bub returned home and has worked in the home improvement field for nearly 70 years. You may remember him from Moore’s Lumber where he helped many in the community, but today he works for Studer Homes where he is the PR department. He and his wife Lois travel the region meeting with contractors and introducing new floor plans for homes. It’s exciting and fulfilling work for him. Bub gets great satisfaction from helping people.

Floyd Basham's service station.

There is, though, a telling episode from early in Bub’s life that pretty much set the direction of his life. Bub Basham loved to play sports. He was a natural. He had the passion. But his athletic pursuits were frustrated by his father’s need to have him work at the family business. His father owned Floyd's service station which is where the now vacant Subway shop sits.  So that’s what he did. He sacrificed his desires for his family’s needs. That was a fairly common thing at one point - another generation or two and almost a century ago. But that set the stage for Bub to become the city’s biggest cheerleader - the one who encouraged, praised, pushed, cultivated, and modeled what he wanted the city to be. From the beginning, Bub has been building a better future for Fort Thomas.

Even though he could not play high school sports because of a family need to work, he played on church baseball leagues - and was eventually inducted into a hall of fame for his skill - and became an enthusiastic supporter of the Cincinnati Reds. A room in the lower level of his house is dedicated to his team. Rows and rows of bobbleheads, stadium seats, signed baseballs (one from Roberto Clemente), bats, even a Cincinnati Reds telephone, and so much memorabilia. It is quite an impressive private museum. But it reveals that Bub is passionate about sports, how it builds character, tests integrity, and reveals your better self. He will gladly discuss a player’s record or a game but he will equally discuss a player’s character and influence.
A portion of Bub's amazing Reds' collection.
Bub has a remarkable memory for sports, people, events, and places. He recalls dates and events quickly and with clarity. He is sharp.  “I’ve seen a lot of things happen in this city, ” he says. He recalls all of the businesses that were located throughout the city, how they have changed, or are now gone. But he is not living in the past. No, no, no. He is still excited to greet the day.  He has things to do. He has goals. He loves his life. He loves what he is doing. He is still building the future.

But Bub is also rooted in the past. He says, “My great-grandfather was the foreman on the Pearl Bryan murder trail, George P. Stegner.”   He followed his father into the Masonic Lodge and now muses,  “I don’t know if I am, but I am durn close to being the oldest Master Mason in Fort Thomas. I went in when I was 21 so I have 70 years in the Masonic Lodge.”  He chuckles.

But don’t think that the Bashams are living in the past. Lois says, “I’ll tell you what Fort Thomas needs. They need a skateboard park. We were in Bowling Green on one of the many team trips, and they had a beautiful park there.  And I thought that is what Fort Thomas needs. We have some frustrated kids.” She thinks kids need a place to go to be active. Lois says, “We should invest in them.” 

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And that’s what struck me about them. Bub and Lois don’t think of themselves. They invest in the schools and they take great joy in watching students prosper in the community, relationships, and life. They know that their parents and caretakers invested in them with activities at school, church, and community so we should continue that investment.

Bub was honored as the 2014 Highlands High School Alumnus of the Year. He smiles.  “It was so neat. I started my speech with “It’s really something when the dirty faced kid from Miller Lane is the Alumnus of Year in Fort Thomas.’” It’s self-deprecating for sure but ever so grateful that someone recognized his contribution.

I asked Bub what his secret is for life. He said, “ First, I never smoked. And I never drank.” He’s active. Loves sports. Is active in HHS. Is committed to improving his city and family.  Clean living, being active, married a good person,  and good friends. It’s a wonderful life for sure.

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