- Lewis “Pooch” Blackson died on June 25 at the age of 93. He owned a grocery store and an insurance agency.
- The dog would sit in the village of Roscoe, greet tourists and greet people in his kitchen down the aisle.
- Pooch was known for telling great stories and recounting his run-ins with Cy Young and Bo Schembechler.
- Pooch collected works of art, albums and was a self-taught designer among other hobbies.
COSHOCTON – Lewis “Pooch” Blackson has always had a story to tell. The amount of truth in the story didn’t matter.
Almost every small town like Coshocton has a dog. An old coot with a colorful past, strange pastimes and a penchant for the most unusual places.
A high school football star who played against legendary University of Michigan coach Bo Schembechler, a 7-Up pilot who would visit iconic baseball pitcher Cy Young on his route, a collector of advertising art and old records, a self-taught designer, an ambassador playing the banjo who welcomed tourists; it was all Pooch and more.
The longtime Coshocton resident died on June 25 at the age of 93. Among his businesses he owned Pooch’s Market and Blackson Insurance Agency.
Ward 1 Councilor Mike Gross asked Coshocton City Council at its last meeting to recognize Pooch’s passing and his contributions to the community. Mayor Mark Mills called him a local icon.
“We definitely lost a traveling history book there,” Mills said. “Pooch has always had great stories.”
Susan Mann said she and her brother, Michael Blackson, learned this week how much their father meant to the community. To them, he was just a dad, but knew his colorful past and his penchant for reaching out to anyone he met.
“Over the years, as I got older, my brother and I realized that Pooch was someone special to everyone,” Mann said. “He was our father, but he was truly an icon in our community. People knew Pooch. They didn’t know Lewis Blackson, they knew Pooch.
As much as people loved Pooch, he loved Coshocton as much. Mann said he was always thrilled with the way she and her brother chose to stay here and never moved.
“He was so proud of our community in good times and in bad times,” she said. “He just thought Coshocton was really the only place in the world anyone would want to live.”
Growing up with Pooch and their mother, Mary Alice, Mann said she and her brother learned values they hold dear. values they taught their children. It understood the importance of hard work and appreciation for what you have and how you should share it with others.
“He always worked. He has had many jobs throughout his life. He instilled in my brother and I early on, you work for what you want, ”Mann said. “We had great things growing up, but my brother and I never felt like we had privileges. We knew our mom and dad were working just for what we had. We also learned about pride. Be proud of what you have. Even if you have very little, you can be proud of it.
Never meet a stranger
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Pooch spent his summers wearing a straw hat and playing the banjo outside the Coshocton Supply Company in Roscoe Village, which is also home to the Coshocton visitor’s office.
Shrewd visitors would notice that the banjo had no strings and that Pooch was singing along to music from a hidden CD player. He would tell stories about his childhood in Coshocton and chat with the older ladies in a group, making up songs about them on the spot.
Pooch had fond memories of sitting outside the store and wished to be there right before he died, CVB director Mindy Brems said.
“We miss having him here and we are asked almost daily about him and if he is still there,” Brems said. “So many people have fond memories of him telling stories and singing songs.”
Before hanging out in Roscoe Village, Pooch would invite people to the garage behind his house, what he called his Galley in the Alley. He had hundreds of paintings, drawings and sketches framed and stacked on the floor. Some were his own sketches, signed as “Grandfather”. Many were by the well known brothers Coshocton Benton and Matt Clark.
The garage also had over 1,000 albums, mostly 78s. Some were framed by partitions. Her favorite was Al Jolson’s “My Mammy”. Pooch was a member of the Al Jolson Society and used to sync to Jolson’s tunes for talent shows and charity benefits.
Other memorabilia were in the kitchen, such as a photo of Pooch holding a letter he sent to Schembechler in 1996. It was the 50th anniversary of the Coshocton High School Championship football team in 1946. Pooch was a lineman and he naturally claimed to be the best the school has ever had.
The letter asked if Schembechler recalled being beaten by Coshocton in a scrum while Schembechler was a student at Barberton High School. The response said he did and “most of you were of voting age and the other half of you were drunk.” Pooch chuckled as he read this part.
Schembechler was not the only sports legend with whom Pooch had contact. Cy Young, for whom the award for best pitcher of each year in Major League Baseball is named after him, spent his twilight years in a rocking chair outside a grocery store in Newcomerstown. They spoke almost every day. Pooch complained about how he could have had a bushel of signed baseballs worth thousands of dollars, but he didn’t want to infringe on their friendship.
Then, of course, there’s the story of how he got his nickname. He told the Tribune in 2013 that it was given to him by his childhood friend Dale Carnahan. Carnahan always came to Pooch’s and asked his mother for cookies. Poocb said he was going to start calling her Minnie the Moocher, after Cab Calloway’s popular song. Carnahan said if he did that he would call him “Pooch”. It seemed odd as the family didn’t own a dog, but the nickname stuck.
In the same 2013 interview with the Tribune, Pooch said, “I have had such a wonderful life. If I could have scripted it, I wouldn’t have written it any other way… How could it get better? How could you write it better?