Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year

Into this life we're born
Baby, sometimes we don't know why
And time seems to go by so fast
In the twinkling of an eye

Let's enjoy it while we can
Won't you help me sing my song
From the dark end of the street
To the bright side of the road

Happy 2006!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Sangamon Valley Ghosts

To follow up on the Lake Club story, we now call attention to the Sangamon Valley Ghost Research Group. This intrepid set of ghost-busters has collected a long list of Haunted Locations in central Illinois, from Vandalia and Havana to Decatur and Elkhart.

Springfield has many haunted locations: the Dana House, Oak Ridge Cemetery, the Governor's Mansion, the Theatre Center, the Lincoln Home and Tomb, and the Old State Capitol.

SHS also makes the list, because the school site at Lewis and Adams Streets was formerly Hutchinson's Cemetery. Although workers moved all the old tomb stones, rumors linger that some graves remain and that a ghostly little girl named Rachel still wanders the halls.

The picture above is of SHS viewed from the top of the Illinois State Capitol building. It comes from a Community Atlas Project built by students in 2003-04.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Friday, December 23, 2005

Keith Schnepp

A lot of us are retiring these days, but not everyone gets publicity about it. This story ran in the State-Journal Register on Wednesday, December 21. Thanks to Judy Vicars Van Hagen for the note and to Judy Schnepp for the scan.

Congratulations to Keith on reaching this great milestone of life. (Or as an aviation friend recently said to me, "Welcome to the glide path.") We wish him all the best and many hours of fun, rest, and relaxation.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Winter Solstice

In case you missed it, winter solstice began on Dec 21 at 1:35 pm EST. This picture shows the sun at its southernmost position, giving the northern hemisphere its shortest day and longest night of the year.

Depending on your frame of mind, Dec 21-22 begins winter or brings more light. The word solstice is from the Latin sol, or "Sun," and stitium, or "stoppage." Many cultures have marked these days as the end of a calendar cycle and a time for major festivals.

In Greek legend, a grieving wife named Alcyone, or Halcyon, threw herself into the sea upon discovering the drowned body of her beloved husband, Ceyx. The pair changed into kingfishers or halcyons, and Zeus forbade the winds to blow seven days before and after the winter solstice, the birds' breeding season. Hence the expression "halcyon days," or tranquil waters.

Romans called this time of year Saturnalia, a time for feasts and gifts. Christians later adopted it as the time to celebrate the nativity of Christ.

So take your pick, short days or tranquil waters. Happy Solstice!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Barbershop Senators

I don't imagine anyone but Springfield locals can get to this event tonight, but it's the inaugural concert of the Barbershop Senators, a new male singing group that probably complements the famous Singing Seven.

In our day, Margaret Hausen formed a "Boys Double Quartette" and the only two names I can recall now are Fred Konrad as bass and Joe Hill as first tenor. The group is listed in our '57 yearbook but not the '58. Anyone recall the names and history of that group? Please add comments below.

And yes, that's the way the Capitoline spelled "Quartet" in 1957!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Reunion Committee

The reunion committee gathered on Dec 10 at Shakey's to visit and catch up on classmate news. According to Judy Vicars Van Hagen, they conducted no official business, other than "the usual talking, story telling and laughing."

In attendance were (Front row left to right): Keith Schnepp, Carolyn Baldwin Quinlan, Roy Borg, CE Welch, Judy McGaw Lewis. (Back row, left to right): John Brownback, Mary Houghton Elberson, Diane Gurgens Urbanckas, Judy Vicars Van Hagen. (click on the pic for a larger view)

Those unable to attend were: Janet Bailey Kerner, Linda Bradley Cozzolino, Bob Hails, Kris Hockenyos Tipps, Libbie Peterson Miller, Ann Tobin Hart, and Ron Wilson.

They haven't set a date yet for the 50th Reunion, but my calendar says that it's 943 days to mid-July of 2008. If you have any ideas for making that Reunion a special celebration, let's hear your comments below!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Lake Club Ghost

Diane Gurgens Urbanckas
alerted me to a story today in the Journal-Register about a Discovery Channel program running tonight (Dec 9) on "The Lake Club Horror." It may appear at other times in other regions, so check the Discovery Channel site.

The Lake Club, located at 2840 Fox Bridge Road in southeast Springfield, was one of the town's few night clubs from the 1940s through the 1960s. It served late, presented big-name entertainers, and paid for them with gambling receipts from a guarded back room.

Closed in 1968, it reopened in the 1970s as a rock/disco club, and at that time the owners began to notice "ghostly" incidents, allegedly set off by a bar tender who had committed suicide there. The club burned to the ground in 1992 but the story lives on in tonight's TV presentation. We had our 10th reunion there in 1968, and here's the class photo to prove it.

Picture from the archives of the Springfield Journal-Register.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Springfield Rewind

Remember the Southtown Theatre? Above is how it looked in Jan 1949 and below in Nov 2005.

A great new site on the Web is Springfield Rewind, which offers visual tours of our town now and then. The fun part is interactive: place your cursor on a picture of Myers Brothers from 1967, and you see how it looks today.

Sometimes the results are happy, sometimes not. The Illinois State Journal building looks better today as the Historic Preservation Agency, while at 11th and South Grand, the old H. N. Blalock & Son store makes a sad "Beauty Supply" company now.

Author of the site is Russ Friedewald, a history and architecture buff who works with picture collections at the Sangamon Valley Collection at Lincoln Library to document changing Springfield.

So far Russ has compiled pictures of Downtown and Southtown. He is looking for folks who have old photos; if you do and want to share, his e-mail is on the Rewind site.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Jack Leckel

1958 English teachers: Mary Sue Dilliard, John L. Leckel, Muriel Eastham, and Mary Virginia Lamson.

One of my favorite teachers at SHS was Jack Leckel. He taught speech and drama at SHS in 1956-58, directing "Antigone," "The Skin of Our Teeth," and "Gold in the Hills." Later I saw him at the U. of I, where he was a graduate student in drama. He wrote and directed his own play, "Blue is the Antecdent of It," and judged the annual Stunt Show.

For a while he tried professional theatre in New York, and later moved to Chicago, where he had a long career training and evaluating teachers in the public school system. Along the way he wrote TV scripts and then cookbooks, all focusing on Illinois food, land, and history. You may still buy copies online; look for "John L. Leckel" as the author's name.

A few years ago, Jack retired to his home town of Collinsville, IL, where one of his childhood friends was Mary Sue Dilliard. There he has been active in historic restoration and in writing online reviews of drama books.

I no longer have Jack's e-mail, but Google gives his mail address and phone. When I corresponded with him, he was delighted to know that members of our class remember him.

On this Thanksgiving Eve, I'd like to thank Jack for bringing his lively, creative imagination into our lives. Day after tomorrow, I will try his recipe for turkey tetrazzini, in The Legendary Illinois Cookbook, page 219.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Dan Fernandes

Dan Fernandes leads an active retired life in La Verne, CA, keeping busy with politics, computers, hi-fi music, and (when time allows) tennis and biking. After earning degrees from Springfield JC and the U of Illinois, he worked at General Dynamics for 33 years as an aerospace engineer, mostly building missile defense systems.

In 1980, Dan joined a design team that built the world's fastest human-powered vehicle, "The Vector," featured on ABC-TV "That's Incredible" and also the cover of Scientific American. In the early 1990s, he earned teaching credentials in math and taught for two years at the secondary and college levels.

In recent years, Dan has been a member of the Libertarian Party and candidate for the California State Senate in his district. He stands for individual rights and free markets, and he invites friends and classmates to visit his web site and drop him a line.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Our Town in Photos

The Illinois State Journal-Register marks its 175th anniversary next year, 1831-2006. To mark the occasion, the paper has mounted a gallery of photos on its site, and one set features "Our Town: A Visual Journey," showing images from 1936 to 2005.

The above image depicts an early snowfall on October 16, 1945. The scene is the Old State Capitol, then serving as the Sangamon County courthouse. An American elm stands on the left, and the Springfield Marine Bank at the rear.

I don't know the year or the make of the car, but it looks to be pre-war. The war had ended two months earlier, and we were five years old.

The gallery has 32 images; credits and photo reprints are available at the SJR site.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Jon Corzine

Few people know that Jon Corzine, U. S. Senator and newly-elected governor of New Jersey, is an Illinois native. He was born in Christian County, on a small farm close to Taylorville, about 27 miles southeast of Springfield.

As a kid he joined 4-H and was a St. Louis Cardinals fan. He went to the U. of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, joined the basketball team as a walk-on, served as president of his fraternity, and majored in Commerce.

After earning an MBA at the U. of Chicago, he joined the investment firm of Goldman Sachs and worked his way to the top. He took the company public, winning a rep for being low-key, efficient, kind, calm, and casual--he wore sweater vests on the trading floor, while making billion-dollar deals. (That's Illinois for you.)

Some observers say he may be President one day. Right now he looks forward to moving into a governor's mansion, since his current home in NJ is an apartment in Hoboken.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Campus Life

I have been remiss of late in posting news because (a) no one has sent me any and (b) I am dealing with mid-terms. Mid-terms is half-way through the semester, when papers and exams pile up at faculty doors and all the students skip off to enjoy a week of vacation from their jejune duties.

Well, this time I am leaving ahead of them, going to Wisconsin for a week of rest and hiking. I will have e-mail access via a local cafe that grants wi-fi to patrons "who are willing to buy a little food," the owner says, so I'll try to stay in touch and not spill coffee on my laptop.

In case you wonder what a professor does, Joel Achenbach of the Washington Post recently wrote a column describing a course that he took with me. He's also mentioned it in a book, so I guess he wants me to change his grade. (Just kidding; he was a star pupil.)

That picture is of Princeton, but not my classes, for I prefer to teach indoors. And I do have some news to impart about a '58, so stay tuned for my next report.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Autumn Leaves

The University of Illinois Extension maintains a beautiful site for leaf-peepers, The Miracle of Fall. It has information on driving, hiking, and picture-taking for many areas across the USA. Updates on the progress of fall color, tons of photos, and even live Foliage Cams will help you plan a trip or enjoy the fall at home.

The image above is from the site of Matthew Kuehl, a talented photographer and musician from Grayslake, Illinois. All of his pictures are available for sale as custom enlargements; he provides an e-mail address at his site.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Elijah Iles House

Springfield's newest historic museum is its oldest standing house, occupied by Elijah Iles (1796-1883), the town's first merchant. He was a friend of Abraham Lincoln and fought with him in the Black Hawk War of 1832. Iles later helped Lincoln bring the Illinois capitol to Springfield, and he supported Lincoln's campaigns for political office.

The Greek Revival house originally stood at the southeast corner of Sixth and Cook and later at 1825 South Fifth. In 1990, the Iles House Foundation incorporated as a non-profit group to give the home a new location on the northeast corner of Seventh and Cook. The foundation has raised funds to sponsor a restoration of the building as a museum and conference center.

Much of the Foundation's work has been a labor of love for Dick Hart, husband of Ann Tobin Hart. A Springfield attorney, Dick has tirelessly raised funds, hired architects and builders, and moved the project along to its grand opening date, September 23-24, 2005. He supplied this picture and many others for a blog I maintain on the Iles House.

In time, the House will anchor a neighborhood devoted to the history of Springfield, making our home town a premiere center for antebellum preservation in the Midwest. Dick and Ann have pursued this vision for two decades, and Springfield owes them much thanks.

If you would like to become a member and support historic preservation in Sangamon County, write to The Elijah Iles Foundation, P. O. Box 144, Springfield, Illinois 62705

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Gas Prices

To folks in the USA suffering from gasoline-price shock, CNN presents a little table of "Gas Prices Around the World" that offers cold comfort.

Even at $3.00 a gallon, the US is far behind the average $5.50 charged in the United Kingdom. Most European prices are in the $4-5 range. In Asia, the average price is $2-3.

To get rock-bottom gas, you'd need to live in Moscow, Tajikistan, or Azerbaijan; and good luck on finding Western-style amenities.

In Venezuela the price is 14 cents a gallon, although the government monopoly charges far more at its 14,000 Citgo stations in the USA.

Rising prices hit hard at commuters and fixed-income retirees. What are you doing: driving less, riding a bus, or (gasp) walking? Comments are welcome.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Mother Jones

54 miles south of Springfield lies the village of Mount Olive, Illinois, featured today in the Washington Post as the last resting place of Mary Harris Jones.

Known as "Mother Jones" during her long public career, 1870-1930, she was a tiny, white-haired woman with a gift for passionate oratory. She fought against low wages and poor conditions in mines and factories, helped organize labor unions, and often went to jail for her beliefs.

The monuments to her today are Mother Jones magazine and her grave in the United Mine Workers Union Cemetery in Mount Olive. She asked to be buried there, with other martyrs of the labor movement, 75 years ago this summer.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Tom Cole '59

C. E. Welch sent me this obituary notice last night. Many '58s will remember Tom Cole from his years as a varsity basketball center, and for leading the SHS 1959 team to the Illinois state basketball championship.

George Thomas Cole: Ann Arbor, MI

Tom passed away Thursday, September 22, 2005 at the age of 64. He was born June 14, 1941 in St. Louis, MO the son of George and Lucille Cole. Throughout his life Tom was a very compassionate man who put others first. He was inducted into the State of Illinois Sports Hall of Fame for basketball. He graduated from U of M and was the captain of the basketball team from 1962-1963. He was a member of the Victors Club, and was very involved in youth sports. He retired as owner of Cole Associates, and was looking forward to enjoying his retirement.

Tom was an intelligent, honorable, and loving person and will always be with us. He is survived by his beloved wife of 38 years, Linda, dear children Christina Cole Slade (Mark), Tom Cole Jr., his precious grandchildren Madeline Dixon Slade and Andrew Cole Slade, sister Lucy (Don) Folger, and many nieces and nephews.

A Memorial Serv ice will be held on Saturday, September 24, 2005 at 4:00 PM at First United Methodist Church of Saline with Pastor James Tuttle officiating. The family will begin receiving visitors at the church at 3:30 PM. A private family burial service will take place. Those wishing may make memorial contributions to Bank of Ann Arbor-George Thomas Cole Memorial Fund (to be used for stroke awareness and research) attn: Patti Judson 125 S. Fifth Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Published in the Ann Arbor News on on 9/23/2005.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Customer Service Heaven

Tired of trying to call a major corporation and landing in Voice Mail Hell? Timothy Noah has written a series of articles for Slate magazine on how to find a human operator at those places.

He has also published a link to IVR Cheat Sheet, which offers a handy chart of instructions for evading voice mail at banks and companies selling cell phones, credit, insurance, computers, Internet, retail, shipping, telephones, travel, television, and power.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Rita comes to Houston

I've only been to Houston a few times, usually just pausing at the airport on my way somewhere else. It's a huge city, made rich by energy and aerospace, and it lies just 60 miles from the Gulf, where Hurricane Rita is fast approaching.

We have two '58 classmates in Houston, Jim Hollis and Helen Young. I am hoping they are safe tonight, either headed away from the storm or hunkered down somewhere with family and friends.

Most of the U.S. population lives in coastal areas, even though they are far more dangerous than inland locations. We are in a more active hurricane cycle now, and the damage is made worse by rising costs and larger populations.

In truth, we ought to have a national no-build zone of 25-30 miles, to preserve coastal wetlands and barrier islands, which absorb the killer storm surges. But folks with boats and beach houses don't want to hear that. (You don't agree? Let's hear comments!)

Sunday, September 18, 2005


First we had tourism, then ecotourism, and now agritourism. Visits to Illinois and staying at family farms has become a new trend in the travel industry, according to an August 21 story in the Los Angeles Times.

The story cites three locations, in Nauvoo, Rantoul, and Belleville, but doubtless many others exist. Check out the Illinois Tourism site for suggested stays and getaways this fall.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Out of Town

Dear Friends,

I will be away from Princeton Sep 12-17. During that time, I will have spotty e-mail access and won't be able to write any entries for the class blog.

If you have news or pictures, please continue to send them in. I'll resume as soon as possible after returning.

Thanks for your notes and cards.


Saturday, September 10, 2005

Jerry Johnson

I regret to report that Jerry Johnson died today at 1:30 am EDT. He had a number of post-op complications and was unable to rally.

This picture is from our 1957 junior yearbook. In 1958 Jerry graduated from New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, NM. He considered SHS his school because of the many classmates he knew from his grade and high school years.

At his request, Jerry's ashes will be scattered on the North Carolina property that he so loved. If you wish to share memories of Jerry, either leave a comment here or write to Ivy Johnson at Jerry's address in the directory on our class pages.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Three of our class members lost their mothers this week. The obituaries in the Journal-Register are as follows:

Ruth McGaw

SPRINGFIELD - Ruth Gust McGaw, 92, of Springfield died Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005, at Lipe's Care Home. She was born April 27, 1913, in Joliet, the daughter of Charles and Elizabeth Shafer Gust. She married John W. McGaw in 1935; he died in 1995. Mrs. McGaw was a homemaker and member of Elliott Avenue Baptist Church.

Survivors: two daughters, Judy (husband, Tom) Lewis and Marsha (husband, Dan) Rion, both of Springfield; two grandsons; two sisters, Margaret Kimble and Katherine O'Malley, both of Wilmette; and several nieces and nephews. Memorial services: 11 a.m. Wednesday, Boardman-Smith Funeral Chapel, the Rev. Leslie Rempel officiating. Private family interment was held in Oak Ridge Cemetery.

Juanita N. Welch

SPRINGFIELD - Juanita N. Welch, 92, of Springfield died Monday, Sept. 5, 2005, at Lewis Memorial Christian Village. She was born July 20, 1913, in Marion County, Mo., the daughter of Henry and Edith Moore Shroder. She married Clarence E. Welch in 1934; he died in 1963. Mrs. Welch retired from the secretary of state's office in 1978. She was a member of Order of the Eastern Star, King's Daughters and Central Baptist Church, where she served on the Diaconate, trustee and mission boards and was a member of Weber Sunday school class and Women's Service Council.

Survivors: son, Clarence E. (wife, Joleen) Welch of Springfield; two grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews. Services: 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Central Baptist Church, Dr. Reg Mills officiating. Graveside services: 3 p.m. Thursday, Emerson (Mo.) Cemetery. Boardman-Smith Funeral Chapel is in charge of arrangements.

Miriam D. Nation

SPRINGFIELD - Miriam D. Nation, 90, of Springfield died Sunday, Sept. 4, 2005, at St. John's Hospital North. She was born June 15, 1915, in Normal, the daughter of Walter P. and Anna Vetter Dyson. She married George H. Nation in 1939; he died in 1998. A son, Michael G. Nation, and infant daughter, Mary Ann, also preceded her in death. Mrs. Nation retired as a secretary from the Kerasotes Theaters in 1980. She was a member of Laurel Avenue United Methodist Church, Irene Smith Circle of King's Daughters and St. John's Samaritans. She volunteered at the Sojourn Thrift Shop and as a guide at the Old State Capitol.

Survivors: son, Tim (wife, Gwynne) Nation of Springfield; four grandchildren; and a great-grandson. Cremation rites will be accorded at Bisch Crematory. Memorial services: 5 p.m. Thursday, Bisch Funeral Home West. Private burial will be at a later date.

For the addresses of Judy McGaw Lewis and C. E. Welch, see the Directory on our class pages. Thanks to Judy Vicars Van Hagen and Ann Tobin Hart for relaying the sad news.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Land and Books

The Library of Congress has a new exhibition, Language of the Land: Journeys into Literary America, and the website version features four regions, Northeast, South, Midwest, and West.

For those who still live in the Midwest, or miss it a little, or don't miss it at all, I urge you to take a look at the images and texts gathered to celebrate that chunk of our mid-continent.

The pictures shown here are some I took on a June visit to southwest Wisconsin, the Uplands or Driftless Region. The country church was the site of a Welsh chapel sing, where the congregation sang in Welsh and in four-part harmony.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Jerry Johnson

Jerry Johnson suffered a massive heart attack on August 23. During a few days of pre-op medication, he had a second, smaller attack and went on a respirator. On September 1, he had triple bypass surgery. A day later he was sitting up, eating spoon food, and preparing for intensive therapy before he goes home.

Jerry attended Dubois School. At SHS he was active in Wranglers and played as trombonist for the Starduster dance band. (second row, far right). He married Ivy Levchenko in 1960 and spent his career with Greyhound, retiring as a district manager. Ivy worked for the PGA in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. They moved to the Asheville, NC area to enjoy mountain living. Their daughter, Cathy Nines, lives nearby in Weaverville and works for the Mountain Area Health Education Center, where Ivy also worked for eight years.

Jerry is a fan of the SHS pages and has sent me several pictures of souvenirs, including the Senators pin on our home page. For a hobby he makes cool knit caps and sells them on eBay. Here he is modeling one under his handle, J Malo, though he could easily pass for Ernest Hemingway.

You may send notes or cards to his e-mail or postal addresses, both listed on our Directory, or just leave a get-well comment here. Jerry is a great guy, full of fun and good humor. For all of us, I wish him a speedy recovery.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Eye for Art

Jo Meiers Leggett lives near Alamo Square in San Francisco with her dog and cat, Chance and Sally Tomato, both aging and lucky to have found her. Her son, Cameron, is a doctor at nearby Kaiser Permanente, and her daughter, Cate, is a certified massage therapist in Pittsburgh.

Jo learned photography in 1975 while living in Pittsburgh. She began to teach and win prizes, especially for her studies of animals, and her stunning portfolios have toured museums from Oregon to Usbekistan.

In 1989 she relocated to San Francisco and later became publisher of photo metro magazine, a premier showcase for art photography. She has sold her pictures to museums in Pittsburgh, San Diego, Austin, Brussels, and Paris. Her writing appears in two books, Our Mothers and Our Grandmothers, both available from Amazon.

Jo sent me several of her pictures, which I'll share with you in future entries. What you see here is only a sample of her extraordinary taste and talent.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Finding Places

Where are we--Florida? Carolina? Maine? No, it's the east central side of Lake Springfield, looking west. Diane Gurgens Urbanckas took this shot on 29 Aug 05 from the dock in her back yard.

Now for a little cyber snooping. Go to this link at MSN Virtual Earth and take an aerial view of Diane's location. You may change from map to aerial photo and also zoom in close. (She says that's OK, but don't parachute in without warning.)

If MSN asks to download software, it will improve your view. If you prefer not, you may also see the location at Google Maps. Both of these mapping sites let you plot trip directions and mail location links. Have fun with them.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Car Culture

Tom Downs sent me a good note about all the "car words" that disappeared from our language, as automobiles evolved into gas-guzzling robots with electronic innards.

A few that you may recall: fender skirts, curb feelers, continental kits, emergency brakes, foot feed, running board, glove compartment.

I could add: choke, necker knob, and gas wars. Remember 16 cents a gallon, summer of '56?

I also recall the parking lot in front of SHS: diagonal spaces, all free, with cars of mostly post-war vintage. If anyone has a picture of that scene, please let me know?

(Picture: downtown parking lot on 5th Street, across from Governor's Mansion)

Monday, August 29, 2005

Katrina Watch

If you are following Hurricane Katrina as it roars from Louisiana to Ontario, check out the web site of the 403rd Wing of the Air Force Reserve, known as Hurricane Hunters. The 403rd flies into tropical storms and hurricanes to measure speeds and also take photos and movies. This picture is of the "stadium effect" glimpsed inside the eye.

Several '58s live in the path of Katrina. Louisiana: Lee Leonard and George Sabo; Arkansas: Byron Hathorn, Pat Stein McPheters, and Robinette Kaylor Gibbons. We hope they are all safe and well.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Brick Streets

Did you grow up on a brick street? Can you remember the color of it on sunny days, or the way it smelled after a rain?

Most early Springfield streets were paved in brick. Cement or asphalt stand up better to heavy traffic, but today many residential streets still feature brick, with its rolling, hilly bumps and sprouts of weed in summer.

In the Midwest, brick was a popular paving material. Some towns are restoring that look, using historical bricks from old buildings. In Sangamon County, the clay for brick came mainly from deposits along creeks and rivers.

Next time you visit Springfield, find a side street and take a walk, down memory's old brick lane.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Sunshine Betsy

OK, the West coast has nice folks, too. Recently our world traveler, Carolyn Baldwin Quinlan, visited her lifelong friend, Betsy Mylroie Yamasaki, who lives in the Avalon section of Fremont, CA, with her husband, Gene.

Betsy is a real estate broker and the past-president of her home owner's association. During her five-year stint, she maintained e-mail contact with over 200 residents, keeping them informed of news and health or safety issues.

She and Gene often rescue lost or feral dogs and cats. They work with a local vet and several foundations, saving and placing hundreds of animals. Betsy donates from her sales fees to the local Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary, and she speaks on endangered species and other environmental topics before the Fremont city council.

The Yamasaki's son and daughter live in Palo Alto and Colorado, and their six grandchildren are, in Betsy's words, "the brightest, cutest kids around." (Could any of us argue with that?) Her mother turns 91 this December. When vision problems developed, she turned to books on tape.

Betsy and Gene keep busy, and they have no plans to retire. She urges any of us who are in the San Francisco-San Jose area to give a call and come for a visit. She and Carolyn never stopped talking: "I guess that art never gets lost." She also urges everyone to read the '58 pages and "take the time to WRITE."

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Fireman Alan

I take it back: some generous folks live in the East, and one of them is Alan Kennedy '58. Al has retired from a career in finance and last year he and his wife, Miriam Short ('59), moved to a new home in Farmington, CT.

Never an idle hand, Al joined the East Farmington volunteer fire department. The officers found him some gear, enrolled him in a Firefighter 1 class, and to date he has responded to over 400 emergency calls, the second highest record in the department.

This summer he completed EMT training through Hartford Hospital. He's now a first responder to fires, medical emergencies, and vehicle accidents. Early this summer, a high-voltage wire set a donut shop and several cars ablaze. The firemen had to wait 45 minutes for a power shut-down.

Here we see Al in a quieter moment, cleaning up after a pancake breakfast fund-raiser.

In our school days, Alan was a talented musician and leader of the StarDuster band, which played at so many dances. He's a grand example of just how active and community-spirited "retirement" can be these days.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Midwest Spirit

I've lived in the East for 40 years, but on retirement I will return to the Midwest. I've missed it for a long while. My friends out here, most of them born in the Northeast, don't understand why. I have tried to give them brief explanations, and the first word is space.

New Jersey is the most densely populated state (over 80 persons per square mile) and its idea of an Interstate is 12 lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic, speeding well over the 55 mph limit.

With the crowded conditions come bad air and water, high taxes and crime, and few instances of generosity or community. I was reminded of how different life can be by the news of recent tornadoes in Dane County, Wisconsin, near where I plan to live.

The tornadoes destroyed much of several villages, but after the first shock, some 3,500 volunteers drove to that area to sign up with the Red Cross and offer assistance. Over half of the volunteers came from the northern counties of Illinois.

You may read more about the story in The Capital Times of Madison, WI. For the scenes of disaster, click on the Stoughton area tornado slide show. (Photo by Michelle Stocker/The Capital Times)

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

SHS Tiles

The SHS building at Lewis and Adams has two sets of decorative tiles, outside and in.

The outside tiles are mosaics high up on the exterior walls, to the front and sides, or east and north-south. Four mosaics depict the school curriculum and two are decorative figures, possibly heraldic.

The designer was Henry Chapman Mercer (1865-1930), founder of the Moravian Tile Works in Bucks County, PA. He embraced the Arts and Crafts style, which also shapes the building's rooftop balustrade and grand front staircases.

The inside tiles, made by Rockwood Pottery of Cincinnati, are back splashes for the drinking fountains. All depict cool, watery scenes, whether at sea or on land.

You may learn more at the Historic SHS web site, especially from its Architecture link. My thanks to Jenni Dahl, SHS Technology Facilitator, for assembling the site and this information.

Little did we know, in our school days, that we lived in history and would join it!

Monday, August 15, 2005

China Girl

At SHS, Carolyn Baldwin Quinlan sang in choir and played piano for the Singing Seven. She taught music in the Downers Grove school district for 32 years, and after retirement, she and her husband, Ed, returned to Springfield.

A self-described "antiques junkie," she collects Haviland china and recently cleaned up at the State Fair competition with 9 ribbon prizes: 5 firsts, 2 seconds, 1 third and 1 fourth.

In July, she traveled to Europe with several friends. They saw Paris, the porcelain museums of Limoges, and took an all-night train to Florence, where they stayed at a villa in Lastra a Signa. Later they drove to Pisa, Venice, Arezzo and other small villages.

Carolyn sub-teaches in Springfield and serves on our Reunions committee, but most days she is happily retired.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Illinois State Fair

The State Fair runs August 10-21, 2005. Between ages 10 and 20 I never missed a fair, and in the teen years Champ Davis and I worked in the grandstand, selling programs to harness races and stage shows.

The Fair gave me a chance to see farm animals, bake-offs, gospel quartets, and a butter cow, all in a few afternoons.

I'll bet everyone has their favorite Fair foods: lemon shakes, foot-long hot dogs, cotton candy, snow cones, or fried chicken dinners served at long tables under tents.

Today I could not take the heat and crowds, but once I could listen for hours to a non-stop talker, selling vegetable peelers, or waste many quarters on rides and games at the Midway.

Do you have State Fair memories? Click on the Comment link and let us know.